Food bank looks ahead after tough year

January 30 2021

Keynsham Food Bank ended 2020 overwhelmed by the support it has received from the community it serves but saddened by the level of help it has had to give to those in food crisis.

The food bank coped with a number of changes after the lockdown began in the early part of the year.

Its first challenge involved moving from its original ‘warehouse’ at Broadlands Academy to a storage facility out of town. Later, thanks to financial donations, it was able to move to a more suitable site in Marksbury.

While last fiscal year the food bank supported 1,292 people, as 2020 drew to a close it had helped 1,870 people, with three months of the fiscal year still to come.

Food bank project manager Alan Hale said: “It has certainly been a year like no other. I am so pleased we have been here to offer support to those in the community who needed our help.

“Sadly, the numbers have painted an horrendous picture, and only time will tell whether that picture will become even more disturbing.”

Currently the food bank is operating a delivery-only system two days a week.

For the most part, the professionals who issue the vouchers have been sending them electronically to the two volunteers running the distribution centre.

The ability to collect food with a voucher had to be withdrawn to protect the wider team of volunteers and the clients. Since then, deliveries have been carried out by Keynsham and District Dial a Ride. 

Mr Hale said: “Our delivery model is continuing into the new year at this time until we know what the pandemic situation has in store for us.”

He thanked Keynsham and District Dial a Ride and those who have donated food and money.

“There have been many significant donations from individuals, companies, churches and other groups. We do appreciate everyone’s kindness, because without their help we would not be able to support those who need our help.”

The food bank’s area covers the Chew Valley, where the community has taken it to heart.

The villages of Stanton Drew and Compton Dando have been organising regular food collections of specific needs, Budgens at Bishop Sutton donated a large consignment of sugar, the Co-op at Chew Magna continues to hold a drop box, as does Pensford Post Office, as well as making additional donations. 

Just before Christmas, Chew Valley School organised a food collection and took it by minibus to the warehouse at Marksbury. And Stockwood Vale residents have been giving a monthly collection to meet specific needs.

Currently the food bank does not need extra volunteers as the method of delivery does not require them.

Anyone wishing to donate financially to the food bank can do so via bank transfer to sort code 60-12-11 account number 26641860, and anyone wishing to donate food can do so through drop boxes at Waitrose Keynsham, Tesco Keynsham and Saltford and at Saltford Hall (when open), plus the drop boxes at Chew Magna Co-op and Pensford Post Office.

Current specific needs are long-life milk, pot noodles, mashed potato, pasta sauce, kitchen towels and jam.

The food bank can be emailed at keynshamfoodbank@gmail.com.