Foodbank supply levels run short at Doncaster site as numbers using facility grow

Volunteers at the DN7 Foodbank at St Mary's Church, Field Road, Stainforth
Volunteers at the DN7 Foodbank at St Mary's Church, Field Road, Stainforth

In a church hall in the heart of Stainforth, a team of volunteers are busy packing bags.

A tin from a cupboard goes in here, a packet there, before the bag is moved out, from the back room to the main hall at St Mary's Church, Field Lane, Stainforth.

From there, it is taken away by a hard-up family - another food parcel to help residents through tough times.

It is more than two years since this routine started, when the DN7 Community Foodbank was set up in January 2016. But there is no let-up on demand for its services. In fact, the demand has risen.

Now that means that food levels are starting to run short. Over 20 people a week are coming to use the foodbank, referred there by local support agencies. When they first started they were only seeing between 12 and 15.

Most of the food is from donations, although the foodbank is also given financial donations to buy food itself.

St Mary's Church minister, Janet Franklin, said: "Although that is number of people coming here, some of the packages are for households with more than one person. Many of them are for families."

Among those dishing out the supplies is the foodbank chairman Pauline Sophianou. A vicar's wife, she payed a key role in setting the foodbank up at the church, having previously worked as a volunteer at the Doncaster Foodbank at Christchurch, Thorne Road.

She brought many of the methods she learned at Thorne Road to the system at DN7.

She said: "I could see that although people in this area would be entitled to access the foodbank in Doncaster, but they would not come because of the cost of coming to town. That is why we set up a foodbank here.

"This postcode area is one of the most deprived in Doncaster, and we will help anyone in the DN7 area.

"But we are concerned that we may have to reduce the amount we give out. as we're concerned that it may be unsustainable at the current levels. It is a struggle, but it helps whenever people donate food."

There are regular food suppliers, For instance, the Tesco at Edenthorpe donates bread and other items if they have a surplus

Secretary Pat Knight said: "We asked Doncaster Council and St Leger Homes if they could help, and we just went ahead and started the foodbank. We looked around for a venue, and the church hall was ideal, with storage and a kitchen.

"A lot of our clients have come here because they are waitng for their universal credit. A lot of people are still waiting silly amounts of time for their applications to go through. "

The foodbank offers more than just food. It is also a place its users can stop for a coffee and a chat, and its team of around 27 volunteers tell them of other agencies that could help them.

Experts from organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and St Leger Homes also attend to offer advice.

The volunteers typically give around 10 hours a week to the charity, performing duties ranging from shopping, stock-takes, administration and setting up and clearing away.

Fund raising walk

The DN7 Foodbank is planning a charity fundraising walk later this year.

It will see volunteers take part in a walk taking in every church in the DN7 area, a distance of around 7.5 miles, on June 16.

Donations

The food bank relies entirely on the generosity of the public.

It does not take any fresh, refrigerated or frozen products as it does not have the facilities to store it, but they accept items including breakfast cereals, long life milk, tea bags, coffee, pasta, rice, fruit juice, squash, tinned meat and fish, soup, tinned vegetables, tinned custard, tinned fruit, rice pudding, jam, biscuits, instant mashed potato, instant noodles, and savoury rice.

Drop off points include EDDT office, Station Road, Dunscroft; The Hair Agency, Station Road, Dunscroft; Hatfield Pit Club, East Lane, Stainforth; Stainforth Library, Church Road, Stainforth; Old Village Tea Rooms, Thorne Road, Stainforth; Central Club, Silver Street, Stainforth; Pet Shop, Station Road, Stainforth; St Laurence Church, Hatfield; The Barn, Hatfield; Hatfield Library, High Street, Hatfield; Louise McQueen Hair Studio, Main Street, Hatfield Woodhouse.

Contact the foodbank by emailing DN7CommunityFoodBank@gmail.com