Churches are being urged to support their local food banks to maintain the provision of emergency food to those in crisis.
The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks, is facing specific challenges as a result of the spread of Coronavirus and is asking for churches’ help.
“Churches throughout the UK are at the heart of the Trussell Trust food bank network and we are hugely grateful for the generous support they provide,” the trust said.
“We know that, like us, churches will be concerned to protect the health of their communities by taking steps to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. At the same time, we know they will share our belief that those who have the least resources to cope with this crisis must not be forgotten at this time.”
A significant proportion of the trust’s 28,000+ volunteers are older people, many of whom are now not able to volunteer because they are in higher risk groups. Many of the people who need to use its food banks have health issues and so may be needing to self-isolate or comply most strictly with social distancing guidelines.
The trust is facing the challenge of maintaining food stocks at a time when many people are going out less or are more urgently focused on providing for their own households. There is also the potential for increased demand where workers are being laid off or shifts reduced due to impact on businesses.
The trust is asking for help in the following areas:
• Volunteering: It urgently needs people – especially of working age – to give time to keep food banks running. This could include sorting donations, packing boxes in the warehouse or making deliveries to people’s doorsteps by car. It is making this appeal particularly to churches with younger congregations, who may have members who find themselves more available to volunteer during the week than usual.
• Food supplies: Some food banks are already facing shortages, others will begin to run low as social distancing measures take effect. It is encouraging people to continue donating non-perishable food and money to food banks at this time and over the coming months.
• Transport: It wants to be able to deliver food to the doorstep for people experiencing poverty who are self-isolating at home and in need of support from a food bank. This is not a service it usually offers, so it needs volunteer drivers and assistants to make this possible.
• Church buildings: The majority of its food bank distribution centres are based in local churches. It is vital that these buildings remain open for food banks to use to that emergency food provision can continue.
• Prayer: There are many people who want to help practically but cannot because they are rightly taking measures to protect themselves and other people. It is encouraging everyone to get involved by praying: suggested prayer points are outlined below.
Churches that are not already connected with a local food bank can find their nearest Trussell Trust food bank at www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/.
Following the links to individual food bank websites will provide more information about specific local needs and ways to get in touch.
In order to co-ordinate volunteering offers, it has also set up an online portal where people can register to help at www.trusselltrust.org/volunteer