Kingsbridge food bank have appealed for more donations and help this winter as energy costs rise and demand increases. They have set up a Crowdfunder and hope to raise £10,000 to help them to provide for the community during the cost-of-living crisis.
Gerrie Nesser has worked at the food bank since 2014. She is one of the ten volunteer trustees who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the food bank and and ensure everything runs smoothly.
She said: “(Donations have) stayed pretty steady but because everything costs so much more there’s less to go round.”
The food bank put tailored food packages together for clients, with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh milk and fresh bread, which is provided from Salcombe Bakehouse and Mr Warburton, who donates 150 loaves of bread a week.
They can make bulk purchases from Morrisons Wholesale, which is delivered right to the door and cheaper than the shelf prices locally.
They tend to see an increase in demand during winter, and have seen massive increases since Covid-19. Pre-covid, thirty parcels a week was the most they would put together. Now they are producing 150 parcels a week.
“We’ve had fifteen new referrals in the last two weeks, and its not just people that aren’t working any more. More people are needing help, but some people are needing more help... Whereas before people would come who can’t afford to feed themselves, now some can’t afford to put the gas on and keep themselves warm as well as feed themselves.”
She said one of the factors impacting this is that many of the local village shops are a lot more expensive than superstores like Tesco and Morrisons. And if people are struggling to pay for transport or get themselves to a bigger shop, then it can be very expensive to provide food for their family.
“There’s no reason anyone should have to pay to pick up their food, (whether that’s) fuel or the bus fare for the journey.”
The food bank started in 2012, when a group of different church leaders came together to help people in need. It has grown since then, but is still completely reliant on grants, donations and fundraisers as they don’t receive any funding from the government.
They try to cater for any food intolerances or dietary requirements. However, it can be difficult to ensure everyone is provided for.
Gerrie said: “We put food packages together, and we cater for people that are dairy intolerant, lactose intolerant, wheat free, celiac… its really hard.”
During their harvest festival celebrations, the family church focused on ‘free from’ donations to help with this.
The food bank also cater for autistic children and children that may be picky eaters due to sensory disorders.
“If all they eat is baked beans or marmite on toast (then) we will provide that,” said Gerrie.
The process works through the creation of personalised food packages.
Gerrie said: “(Clients) all have tailored food parcels. When they sign up they get a list of stuff to check off the list that they would and wouldn’t like.”
This is to prevent food going to waste, which is one of the food banks top priorities.
The food bank have a great team of volunteers, but they’re always looking for more helpers to ensure they can provide for everyone that needs their help.
“We’ve always got a good team of volunteers,” said Gerrie, “but then something will snag. This week two of our ladies are having operations on their legs, so they’ll be out of action for a while. It just happens like that, its life.”
The link to the crowdfunder can be found at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/cost-of-living-crisis---winter-2023