1 Dec 2016
How running a food bank has opened my eyes to why people are without food and why Tesco's Neighbourhood Food Collection is vital.
Our focus has been on providing three days emergency food for people in a crisis. After a couple of years, I thought I knew about every scenario. But I often talk to people who are in a situation we’ve never come across before.
Week in, week out there are different people in Watford who do not have enough money for food. Some are affected by illness, by job losses or by homelessness. Others by simply not having any money because an emergency has left them short.
In the school holidays we have more demand for food. Children have a hot meal at school during term time. During the breaks, some families just can’t make their small food budget stretch.
We see families who have no money at all due to benefit delays. Some have an unexpected bill to pay or their tenancy would be at risk. There are so many stories that bring tears to your eyes. People with no money, no accommodation and often no hope. Family breakdowns often mean that there is no support network and some people are quite alone. We offer food and advice on where to get financial help or counselling.
There are over one hundred charities in our town who identify people most in need and refer them to us.
We have a huge demand for food. We are so grateful for the support of individuals and companies including Tesco. When shoppers put that extra item into the Neighbourhood Food Collection box, they are helping people who need it most.
We have around 40 volunteers each week. One of our team leaders also works for Tesco. She keeps a check on our permanent collection point in the Watford store. She tells customers about which items we are short of and the amount of food donated each month. We have built up a good number of regular supporters through this collection point.
I dream that one day there will be no need for food banks but right now, the need is great and they need our support.