“We all know people end up using food banks for lots of different reasons. Pretty much all of them are doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt, but sometimes life just keeps dealing people bad hands. Over the last year we’ve met young mums escaping domestic violence who have fled to a hostel without any of their belongings, dads on zero-hours contracts who are just short for a few days, people struggling with long term addiction and working people who have had unexpected bills to pay. No two guests are the same but more often than not people come to a food bank because they don’t have other support networks or a community to help them.
Hopefully everyone gets a warm welcome, a good chat and a big bag of food. There’s no need to abandon your dignity or to feel ashamed about using a food bank. We work hard to make sure we do what we can to address the reasons behind the referral, either by recommending money management courses, helping people contact support agencies or utility companies or welcoming people into our community through volunteering and befriending opportunities. The food parcels are a practical way to address a real short term problem but often we know that the issues aren’t going to go away in three days.
We’ve managed to build relationships over the last few years with local businesses and delivery companies so we can normally add fruit, vegetables and bread to the parcels, but it still isn’t going to keep them going while they wait five weeks for a Universal Credit payment or who knows how long for some more shifts at work.
For all these people, the new Community Grocery is going to be a game changer. We’re so excited every time we tell a visitor that they can sign up for a fiver and then choose healthy, nutritious food from packed shelves for another three quid. We get a variety of reactions but mostly people can’t believe it’s real or that there’s no strings attached. It’s like a supermarket but better, because let’s face it, supermarkets are only interested in your wallet. After talking to Angelitia and the people behind the community grocery, it’s obvious that they are more interested in the whole person and their individual life story.
We hope that as an expression of our church we do a good job of welcoming food bank users into our community, treating them with dignity, honour and love and making isolation and loneliness a thing of the past. The community grocery feels like it’s going to do the same to food poverty.”
Click here to find out more information on the Community Grocery.