Two Croydon pastors have opened up a local food bank after seeing how many people were struggling to eat around the area.
Pastors Kingsley Ofori and Reverend Richard Ayetay of Praise Gate Temple, decided to do something about the amount of food poverty in the area after local reports showed high numbers of people who were unable to feed themselves.
Taking inspiration from a Gospel song message ‘Love thy name as thyself’ and ‘Its better to give then receive’ the pastors did just that.
Ayetay said: “If someone is hungry and you try to speak to them, due to their hunger they are not able to listen to what you are saying properly. So the idea is to give them something to eat and then talk to them about their problems and how best we can help as a church.
“It’s also great because we have the support and guidance of the Trussell Trust, but above all we rely on the community to help us meet each other’s need.”
Trussell Trust is an organisation that runs over 400 foodbanks, in which emergency food and support is given to people across the UK.
According to the Trussell Trust, the number of people that have received three day emergency food supplies rose dramatically to 1,109,309 in 2015-16 – which included 693,443 adults and 415,866 children.
In Croydon, the number of food supplies given to both adults and children jumped from zero between April 2013 and March 2014 to a total of 1075 from April 2014 and March 2015.
Croydon saw an even bigger increase when the number of food supplies adults were receiving grew from 751 to 1294 from April 2015 and March 2016.
The Trussell Trust works very differently to independent food banks, and there are many different reasons behind foodbank referrals from care professionals such as doctors, social workers and the police.
Recipients visiting the food bank are only entitled to three vouchers in a six-month period; each voucher provides access to a food package that contains enough food to last a minimum of three days.
People deemed as ‘in crisis’ can also be provided with a food bank voucher, which can be redeemed for three days emergency food.
Ofori, Project Manager of Croydon Food Bank said: “At the moment the food bank opens three days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturday afternoons, where we are hoping to open everyday of the week by the end of this year. This will be achieved through additional distribution centres we are embarking on.
“We fed just under 2,000 families last year and we are just one project in one location, so we are making a direct impact. We are looking to expand to three or four centres in the coming year as we know 60 percent of the vouchers are not being redeemed, because people are not always able to travel to our current location.
“Croydon being such a big area, means we would like to have distribution centres open to the public by the end of this year. We are partnering with more churches and local charity organisations who have similar vision for us to work together to make this happen.
“The key to the success of the food bank is hard work, dedication, right leadership and support, everyone putting in what they can. It’s team work but it’s hard work.”
To donate or volunteer please visit www.croydon.FoodBank.org.uk