Foodbanks aren’t just for Christmas

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Victoria Pearson

If you’re a regular reader of Ungagged, you’ll remember that we asked you to  donate to your local foodbank during our Activist Advent campaign, and you didn’t let us down: the Trussell Trust received over 13 tonnes of food donations last December.

This week, however, Ungagged became aware of a desperate shortage of food at NW Glasgow foodbank.

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NW Glasgow foodbank shortage – the line represents two weeks supply of food parcels

The line in the picture above indicates two weeks worth of food to feed hungry families, including children. As you can see, NW Glasgow is falling far short, and struggling with the huge increase in demand.

Almost 26,000 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Glasgow NW, Glasgow NE, Glasgow SE, Glasgow SW and Glasgow City Centre foodbanks during 2016-17, compared to 21,838 in 2015-16. Of this number, 10,325 went to children.

The foodbank is run by The Trussell Trust network.  They provide three days’ nutritionally balanced food, cleaning products and essential toiletries to those in need in the uk, as well as signposting people to other agencies and services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis; most commonly benefit changes or sanctions.

Kyle McCormick, Project Manager of Glasgow NW Foodbank said:

“It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis across Glasgow over the last year, at North West this has been an increase of 62% on the previous year.

One family came to us following their benefit being stopped, resulting in no income while their case was being reviewed. The foodbank provided the support for the family while their Member of Parliament and the Citizens Advice Bureau were involved to resolve the situation as soon as possible. The foodbank supported the family until the point when their crisis was resolved. We are extremely grateful for all the donations that we receive, largely by customers leaving donations at our supermarket collection points. Donations are particularly great at Christmas, when we saw 13 tonnes donated in December, from various workplaces, schools and churches organising collections. The reality of the Foodbank is that we are open 52 weeks of the year across the city, you can see the startling figures of those that we are all helping, we need continued support to always have food on our shelves. In the last quarter of 2016-2017 Glasgow NW foodbank spent over £2,000 to keep the shelves stocked, as donations drop almost instantly at the turn of the year.”

Many people in crisis who access the foodbank are struggling because of circumstances out of their control, and Trussell Trust can be a lifeline when they’ve nowhere else to turn.

  Audrey Flannagan, Foodbank Manager of Glasgow SE Foodbank said:

“I received a phone call from a gentleman asking if we could help. He had had a relationship breakdown but his daughter and grand-child were living with him. He was working, but on minimum wage, but still paying full rent etc as partner had been working before the split and they didn’t qualify for housing benefit. His daughter was waiting for her benefits to be sorted and was unable to contribute much to the house. I told him to come and see us. We were able to help with food and as he had a prepayment meter fuel as well. We were also able to signpost both of them to the local law centre for benefit checks etc. He said he did not know what he would have done if the foodbank hadn’t been there.”

With massive rising demand, and donations tailing off as soon as the Christmas period is over, foodbanks in Glasgow are struggling to assist everyone who needs it, so are pooling their scarce resources to try to help as many people as possible. It’s brilliant that the foodbanks are coming together in this way, but they urgently need our help. Foodbanks are expensive to run; as well as the costs of food, toiletries, cleaning products and sanitary protection, foodbanks must also find the money for warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food, a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like utilities and insurances and salary for the part time managers (who, as Ungagged discovered when we delivered our donation, are so dedicated to their calling, they have even been working through unpaid holiday time to keep the foodbank operational).

How to Help

  • The foodbanks will continue working together in the coming months when they will be collecting money for foodbank funds at Glasgow Central Station on the last Friday of the month from April to November excluding September.
  • The Foodbanks welcome any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at the individual foodbank’s website.
  • You can donate food at various collection points. Donations the foodbanks need in general are:

TINNED: fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, tomatoes,

JARS: pasta sauce, jam,

DRINKS: UHT Milk, diluting juice,

toiletries,

cleaning products

Food banks generally have enough soup, beans and pasta.

At time of writing, no political figure had responded to the desperate shortage of food in Glasgow’s foodbanks. We find that appalling. Lip service is not enough, people are going hungry. The time for action is now.

It is election time, so is the ideal time to let our representatives know we won’t tolerate people going hungry because our MPs refuse to address the causes of poverty, and refuse to fund foodbanks.

We are the fifth largest economy in the world. We shouldn’t have to rely on charity to feed our vulnerable people. But right now, you are all these people have. We know our audience are kind, generous, good hearted people and we know you’ll dig deep.

Foodbanks are for life, not just for Christmas.

 

If you’d like to donate through Ungagged, please leave your donation here, write “Foodbank” in the “add a note” section, and we’ll be sure to pass it on with donations we have collected from our contributers, just as we did earlier in the week.

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Our co-producer, Neil Scott, meeting with Kyle McCormick of NW Glasgow foodbank, to give in our team’s donations.

 

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