Harvest festival in September and October was busy for Swindon Foodbank volunteers with lots of generous donations from local schools, churches and businesses.
The collections came at the right time as the foodbank prepares for the winter months.
Part of the Trussel Trust, Britain’s largest organiser of food banks, the West Swindon based charity has been helping local people in crisis since 2005, and was amongst the first organisations to be set up to feed individuals and families who had fallen on hard times.
Explaining the ethos of the food bank, new-in-post project manager David Hartridge said: “As a Christian charity the emphasis is on showing compassion to people who are struggling. We provide short term support to individuals and families who find themselves in difficult circumstances until statutory support comes into effect.
“Harvest festivals account for about a third of our annual donations so the warehouse is nice and full at the moment.”
Describing the picking and distribution process warehouse manager Andrew Hill said: “We collect dried and canned products and pack them carefully to provide our clients with basic food for a nutritionally balanced diet.
"We always give enough to feed all members of the household, and we err on the side of generosity whenever possible.”
Pictured: David Hartridge and Andrew Hill in the food bank sorting centre in Westlea
The majority of Swindon Foodbank referrals come from the Job Centre and from Citizens Advice Bureau which distribute vouchers to those in most need.
Commenting on how the process is managed Andrew added: “Everything is carefully tracked and monitored, including checking product use-by dates, keeping close records of voucher distribution, food bank clients and the range of stock to ensure a balanced supply.”
The food bank currently distributes five days a week to the town centre, Penhill and Cavendish Square, but David would like to expand the number of distribution points into the surrounding areas.
Commenting on the increased demand David said: “Every year we feed more people but in the last 12 months our client numbers are up by 30 per cent, largely due to the changes in benefits provision.
“We’re always looking for both donations and for volunteers to help in the warehouse. We would also like to hear from anyone willing to fund-raise to help us cover running costs.”
For details of how to help see www.swindonfoodbank.co.uk or call the team on 07932 108732.