A public appeal for help has been made by Bow Foodbank to cope with a drastic increase in people seeking food parcels over the past few weeks and which has left them struggling to remain open for the upcoming year.
The charity has started an emergency food appeal fundraiser and hopes to reach their goal of £240,000 by January to continue serving adults and dependent children in Bethnal Green and Bow.
Bow Foodbank has been running since 2014, providing 3-4 days’ worth of food to residents with no referrals needed. “Altogether, the value of the bag [of food] for a family with children is around £20 – not nearly enough for a whole week, just a top-up for a few days when there is nothing else left in the cupboard,” said Bow Foodbank on its website.
Currently, Bow Foodbank receives funding from the Big Lottery Fund until March 2021, but it does not cover any food-related expenses. This has resulted in a shortfall. “We are reluctant to reduce this offer any further, and we are reluctant to turn people away, so we must rapidly reach our fundraising target,” said the charity.
Council hits out at government
The foodbank’s call for support comes as Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has hit out at the Government for undermining the council’s efforts to tackle poverty in the borough. Biggs warned that local councils cannot indefinitely pick up the tab for filling in the cracks in Government support schemes.
In October, the government refused to back a Labour motion for long-term economic support in the House of Commons which would have seen free school meals continue to be funded over the half-term holiday.
Biggs said in a statement: “The Free School Meals fiasco and the Chancellor’s failure to set out a long-term support package shows that families have been left to sink or swim by this Tory Government.”
Tower Hamlets has a child poverty rate of 55% as of 2019, the highest in London.
Councillors including Cabinet Member Mufeedah Bustin have also blamed the government for not giving Tower Hamlets additional financial support.
Bustin said in statement: “We really need the Government to set out a longer-term plan so that we can have some certainty about the future, and we also need the Chancellor to properly fund our council so that we can continue to fund our Tackling Poverty work which makes such a huge difference locally.”
Bow Foodbank hopes to get into contact with funding bodies, trusts, foundations, corporates and community organisations who give charitable funds for food purchases.