Bishop's Stortford Food Bank appeals for extra donations this Christmas
Bishop's Stortford Food Bank is gearing up for a busy Christmas with a surge in demand for its services.
Although the town is generally affluent, there are pockets of deprivation. The food bank, based at the Methodist Church in South Street, provides groceries and other items – like toiletries, if required – to those in crisis. It gives advice about other agencies which can also help.
New chairman Bill Macdonald, who took over from Mione Goldspink, said: "We treat all our guests with love and respect, realising just how vulnerable many of them are.
"Our guests are all individuals, but the most common reasons for them asking for help are problems with the benefits system, ill health, challenging life experiences and having little or no local support.
"Increasingly, many could be described as experiencing 'working poverty', where an unexpected bill can mean difficult choices having to be made, for example between keeping warm or feeding the family properly.
"It's often not easy for people to ask for help. Many put off coming to the food bank until they are desperate – in one case a guest talked about sitting outside for 20 minutes before finding the courage to come inside!"
In the nine months from the start of January to the end of September this year, 360 people visited the food bank for help – an average of 40 a month – and it fed a total of 540 people.
Bill said: "Christmas is often a busy time for us, so we're gearing up to meet the demand. This year we're also partnering with the Salvation Army in providing extra food for families through their networks."
The food bank has 45 volunteers, which enables it to run two shifts of helpers four days a week.
Bill said: "We depend entirely on donations of food and money to survive. As well as allowing us to buy perishable extras such as margarine, cheese and bread, the additional financial support means we can meet our transport, storage and salary costs.
"The generosity of people in Bishop's Stortford – schools, churches, businesses and individuals – in giving food, time and money continues to amaze me. We appreciate that people have other charities that they wish to support and that money is often tight at Christmas time, so any donation to us as part of our Christmas appeal, large or small, would be gratefully received."
Donate by dropping off items at the food bank or in collection boxes at the town's supermarkets. Alternatively, make a cash gift at https://www.justgiving.com/bishopstortfordfoodbank or give your time as a volunteer.
Bishop's Stortford Food Bank's Christmas list
Christmas boxes of chocolates, sweets and biscuits
Tins of chicken in sauce
Tinned custard and tinned fruit
Evaporated milk or tinned cream
No mince pies please because they go out of date too quickly
Regular items that are in short supply
Tins of solid meat (ham, spam, corned beef etc)
Juice (long life, all flavours) and squash (any flavour)
Milk (long life or dried)
Sugar (small bags)
Tinned sponge puddings and tinned rice pudding
Peanut butter and Marmite
Hand sanitisers, shaving foam, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrushes
* Christmas goods will be given out from Tuesday December 10 so donations should be made by Monday December 9.
More by this authorSinead Corr