With demand for support from Ealing Foodbank (EFB) already strongly rising in early 2020, the arrival of COVID19 and lockdowns across society drove that demand to record-breaking levels. Between April 2020 and March 2021 EFB:
- Fulfilled over 13,000 Client vouchers, providing 3-day emergency food supplies to 38,219 Clients in food poverty – an increase of 166% over the previous year.
- To meet that rise in Client demand EFB has received or purchased 314 tonnes of donations of food and toiletries and distributed 305 tonnes by way of Client collections, home deliveries and through other local food charities. This is almost three times the food supply and distribution of the previous year, which was itself at a record level for EFB.
The pandemic caused a complete rethink of the ways in which EFB operated. The first lockdown in spring 2020 meant closing Client Centres in Acton, Ealing Green, Greenford, Northolt and Southall – leading to the in-house development of COVID-safe donation and distribution procedures based at the EFB warehouse and within St Mellitus church. Distribution of food to Clients in person was primarily carried out at St Mellitus during 5 sessions per week.
In order to supply food and toiletries to vulnerable residents who were shielding, a system to provide home deliveries was devised, implemented and, in partnership with Ealing Community Transport, run successfully throughout the year, supplying food packages to nearly 10,000 Clients. EFB is hugely grateful to ECT for their support.
Only in the last few months has distribution of food, by pre-ordered packages, begun to be delivered again via Acton and Southall Client Centres; it is hoped to reopen other Centres in the near future.
Janet Fletcher, Foodbank Manager, said “It has been a very difficult year for Ealing Foodbank but we have managed to meet the challenges thrown at us and helped so many Clients who have experienced food poverty. The scale of the demand was barely imaginable 18 months ago – but we have met it thanks to two things. The first is the tireless efforts of our small army of volunteers: whether they were processing and recording vouchers; sorting, storing and packing food; collecting donations or handing out bags of food and toiletries to Clients – it has been a monumental effort.
Most of all we are thankful to our donors – EFB can only function with purpose because of their generosity. They come in many shapes and sizes – from individuals to community groups, churches, schools, sports clubs, neighbourhood food drives, and local businesses to name but a few. Our partner supermarkets – ASDA, Sainsbury, Tesco, and Waitrose – do a fantastic job of collecting donated food from the public, and Ealing Council have played a large role in donating over 35 tonnes of food to our cause. We are so grateful for the support of our whole community.”
Looking ahead Janet is optimistic about meeting more challenges but admits that “food poverty is not going to go away as society reopens, so we need to be prepared for what comes next.”