The amazing volunteers at Stowmarket Food Bank are calling for everyone to spread the festive cheer this year by donating any food they may have laying around this winter to help them make Christmas food hampers for those in need.
Mike Smith, the project coordinator for Stowmarket Food Bank, explains that many people are finding themselves falling on hard times during this pandemic, especially with this upcoming festive season.
Mike said: “Before lockdown, we were at a place where we were serving an average of 15 families a week but since lockdown, that number went up to 40 families a week. Nothing prepared us for that really and it’s terrible to see.”
Now, more than ever is the time for us to all to pull together and help those who might be struggling financially with this lockdown. One of the ways that Stowmarket Food Bank is doing this is by making Christmas hampers.
These hampers, which will be given out at a special event, are filled with food and other Christmas goodies kindly donated by people in the local area to be delivered to families or people nominated by their local communities.
This year the mayor will make a socially distanced appearance at their Hillside Centre at 2pm on December 20, where there will be Covid-safe Christmas carols and other festivities for all to enjoy. The mayor will then present the hampers to the chosen families and the lovely people at Stowmarket Food Bank will pack the hampers in the back of their vans and deliver them just in time for Christmas.
Mark explained: “We deliver 95% of the food parcels we supply because we’re a very rural area and often if people are in food poverty, they haven’t got cars with petrol so it’s a complete service that we offer. We truly believe that no one should go hungry, especially at Christmas.”
Whatever doesn’t get put into the hampers will be distributed to others in need so that everyone who may be falling on hard times receives the perfect Christmas present.
When asked why he loves what he does, Mike said: “I think the most satisfying thing is to see people’s faces when you deliver a parcel and it’s a genuine need and they expect half a carrier bag and we pull up and hand over a whole week’s worth of food with like five bags for life full of food.
“Some people just break out into tears from being overwhelmed. We can only help people as people are helping us so it’s a community response really: churches, councils, Rotary clubs and businesses support us and it’s great to see. I love it because it’s a community response to a community need.
“I don’t think churches can do it on their own, I don’t think businesses could do it on their own and I don’t think councils could do it on their own. It’s the three groups coming together. It’s community spirit, that’s what it is.”
Mark explained that the food donated to their food bank is make or break for a lot of families. He continued that, for some, they often face the question of heating or eating for the month, which is why we all need to pull together to spread as much cheer through full bellies as we can.
Mark said: “We had a youth football team in last week. They heard about Marcus Rashford’s campaign and they wanted to get involved so they got all their parents to bring in food and ended up bringing 332 kilos of food. Amazing! Generosity out of nowhere. That’s what we love the most.”
To find out how and what to donate, be sure to download the Stowmarket Food Bank app on Android or IOS where you can also donate money, if you wish, to provide the finance for the volunteers at Stowmarket Food Bank to get the food and deliver it themselves.
Every week, the amazing people at Stowmarket Food Bank update the list of items they most need so you can always be reassured that what you’re sending will be put to good use. Give them a like on Facebook too, and visit www.livingit.org.uk/foodbank.