A new initiative to supply hard-pressed food banks is up and running in Sheffield where Rotary has teamed up with the Trussell Trust team at Sheffield S6 to combat hunger in the city.
With roughly a quadrupling of demand for foodbank supplies, Sam Evans at Sheffield S6 Foodbank Hub says that, more than ever, the whole community is pulling together to help. But, he fears, the issues of hunger and deprivation are not going to go away any time soon.
Sheffield S6, part of the Trussell Trust, now provides a distribution hub for seven foodbanks in the city. “We are currently distributing £10000 of food and essentials each week to some of the neediest in the community. Last week alone we delivered to 314 households, providing for almost 800 people. That’s around four times the volume for the same week last year. And that number is rising,” says Sam.
The combination of Covid lockdown and the economic fallout has seen more families than ever struggling to make ends meet. Nationally the Trussell Trust has reported unprecedented demand for its services.
But a new initiative by Rotary is helping to ensure that the limited funds of many of the region’s foodbanks go further still. Local club Abbeydale Rotary is part of the region-wide programme, Rotary4foodbanks, launched last month across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
With money donated by clubs, supporters and from the foodbanks themselves, Rotary4foodbanks uses its buying expertise to source food for foodbanks at prices they could not achieve and also elicits donations from food processing companies. The scheme is supported by regional transport and logistics companies who provide staff and transport free of charge. Goods are then sent from a central depot in Nottinghamshire to the Sheffield S6 hub and elsewhere. Local volunteers then distribute the supplies onwards to the individual foodbanks across Sheffield and Rotherham.
Says Graham Stevens of the Abbeydale Club: “It is a real team effort. Smaller foodbanks can order supplies through Rotary4foodbanks and see their limited funds work harder. In a real spirit of co-operation, Sheffield S6 warehouses the bulk supplies until they can be collected by or delivered to individual foodbanks. Just this week Rotary4foodbanks delivered 3300 units of product – around 350 cases of porridge, tea, coffee and other essentials, on pallets to the Sheffield S6 hub.”
While the Rotary4foodbanks scheme is currently operating only in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, the plan is to roll it out more broadly. “Our members tell us there is a crying need for a similar service to support foodbanks elsewhere in the country. In the North East especially, Rotarians are looking to utilise the scheme to help meet that demand,” says the scheme’s co-ordinator, John Cavey.
Eventually, Rotary hopes that the government will also give financial backing to grow the scheme nationally. “Until then,” says John, “we are relying on the generosity of the public and businesses to see us through.”
Sam Evans says: “Not just in the Sheffield region, but across the country generally, it looks likely that the problem is only going to get worse. Supermarkets and Rotary have been brilliant in stepping up to the mark and we know they will continue to do so. Here at Sheffield S6, we are looking to work even more closely with other local charities, businesses and individual volunteers to ensure that no-one goes hungry in South Yorkshire.”
Anyone wanting to help in the Rotary4foodbanks programme – or foodbanks requiring support – can contact John Cavey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 07855 299443
Anyone needing food in Sheffield can contact S6 foodbank on Tel: 0114 321 0733.
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