COVID 19 and the Future of the Foodbank
Life has changed so much for so many people in just six months. 100,000 people across the UK used food banks for the first time between April and June this year and we know from our own experience in Cambridge that over half of those people using the food bank at the start of the pandemic had never needed to use a food bank before.
We are still far from out of the woods and the longer the threat of COVID-19 continues to impact daily life, the more people are experiencing reduced income and food insecurity. And, while we continue to address people’s immediate emergency needs, we also now need to plan for the new future.
New Chair of Trustees
We’re very pleased to introduce Stephen Thornton as the Foodbank’s new Chair of Trustees. A former health sector CEO with 22 years board level experience, Stephen has been a Trustee on the Foodbank’s board since June 2019, working as an extremely helpful advisor and sharing his valuable expertise.
As you know, Cambridge City Foodbank works closely with referral agencies to provide our clients with the additional support, advice and guidance they need to help them not only cope with the immediate emergencies but to plan, prepare and position themselves in a more secure place for the future. The Trussell Trust’s voucher system is designed specifically with this in mind; it provides a mechanism to ease immediate pressures while clients find solutions to their longer-term problems. In this way we are actively encouraging people to take control and work towards solutions for themselves and their families, rather than simply filling an immediate need for food.
Our Fairbite centre is proving extremely successful in serving two very important functions: it helps families in need, and also helps to reduce food waste. If you’re unfamiliar with the way that Fairbite works, it is like a club: clients pay a small fixed amount each time they shop and are then able to choose items they need and want from the shelves like they would in any other shop. The food is mainly excess stock from the Cambridge City Foodbank’s warehouse and some comes from supermarkets overstocks via the national charity FareShare.
Long-term strategy and solutions
We are now working on plans to extend the Fairbite offer across other sites in and around Cambridge as part of our wider work in partnership with other organisations and agencies, including Cambridge City Council and the Food Poverty Alliance, to develop effective long-term strategies for combatting poverty. We will keep you updated on developments in the coming months.