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‘It’s the perfect storm’ - Norfolk Foodbanks struggle under the strain of coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 15:09 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 17 March 2020

There is concernt he number of volunteers at foodbanks will drop as people self-isolate. Pictured, left to right, Hannah Worsley (Foodbank project manager), Pam Broughton (Foodbank volunteer), Barbara Moore (Foodbank volunteer) and Helen Tuttle (Norfolk Community Foundation marketing executive). Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There is concernt he number of volunteers at foodbanks will drop as people self-isolate. Pictured, left to right, Hannah Worsley (Foodbank project manager), Pam Broughton (Foodbank volunteer), Barbara Moore (Foodbank volunteer) and Helen Tuttle (Norfolk Community Foundation marketing executive). Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

“Our cupboards are bare and I know we are not the only ones. We are all suffering.”

This is the concern about the impact of coronavirus on donations and distribution at foodbanks across the county.

At Waveney foodbank, donations have dropped by 50 to 60pc compared to last month and over 40pc of the volunteers are in the ‘at risk’ categories of the virus.

Matt Scade, from Harleston, is the foodbank’s project manager and said if it continues the food bank will shut by the end of May.

“The food is going to run and if we haven’t got enough volunteers we won’t be able to distribute food” Mr Scade, who is nearly 50, said. “We’re just taking each day as it comes and trying to carry on with business as normal.”

There are fears donations to food banks will continue to drop as coronavirus escalates. Picture: ANTONY KELLYThere are fears donations to food banks will continue to drop as coronavirus escalates. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“But I hope people will stop panic buying as if there is no food in the supermarket it will be impossible to donate to foodbanks and to those who desperately need it. The situation is becoming beyond a joke.”

Anna Price has worked in leadership at the St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, which hosts a food bank, for two years.

Over the weekend they launched a service where people who need to self-isolate, and do not have the ability to get food or funds, will receive a seven day food supply. Mrs Price said: “It kicked-off straight away this morning and it shocked me. I went immediately out to deliver food to a family with two small children, one aged three and the other aged 12 weeks, who needed to self-isolate. If I hadn’t have come with donations children would not have eaten lunch today.”

Hannah Worsley, project manager at Norwich foodbank, warned coronavirus created the conditions for ‘a perfect storm’.

Waveney Foodbank operations manager Matthew Scade is appealing for donations over fears it could run out of stock. Picture: Simon ParkinWaveney Foodbank operations manager Matthew Scade is appealing for donations over fears it could run out of stock. Picture: Simon Parkin

Ms Worsley said: “We have noticed that stock levels have started to diminish but demand could well go up amid the virus outbreak and vulnerable and people in need will struggle even more to get supplies they vitally need.”

“I advise people to not look at stock messages and to see at what each foodbank centre needs in terms of supplies and this information will be available on their websites. At the moment, for example, we’re more in need of milk and fruit juice than pasta.”

Phil Aves, lead at Lowestoft Rising, said the stock levels at Lowestoft foodbank has reached ‘alarming’ levels and call on shoppers to be more considerate.

He added: “More and more people will rely on foodbanks for help but, at this rate, we won’t be able to help as many people although we are determined to find ways so please be generous with donations.”

Each foodbank has a different system for accepting donations and volunteers, please refer to www.trusselltrust.org for more information.


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