Doncaster foodbank expands as demand continues to rise

Doncaster’s biggest foodbank has seen demand for its emergency parcels rise by more than a fifth in two years, its new boss has revealed.

By David Kessen
Monday, 22nd July 2019, 1:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 11:59 am

In the year ending March 31, 2019, the Doncaster Foodbank, based at Christ Church, on Thorne Road, dished out a record 5,142 three day food parcels – up 22 per cent compared to the year ending at the same date in 2017. It compares with 4,213 in 2016-17, and 4,696 in 2017-18.

Now the organisation has brought in a foodbank project manager to concentrate on making sure that there is enough food available to meet the rising demand across the borough.

It is the latest change at the organisation, which has now also taken up its own warehouse on a Doncaster industrial estate to cope with the extra storage it now requires, having previously used the crypt at the church were it holds its sessions.

Shirley Donnelly, Volunteer distribution manager, pictured sorting food bags. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Foodbank Christchurch MC 9

New boss Sandra Edwards moved into the post two months ago, taking up a three year post that is being funded by the supermarket chain Asda.

The latest move to help bring in food is the introduction of food collection boxes in libraries in areas which the Doncaster Foodbank serves. They have already been agreed for Sprotbrough, Edlington and Scawthorpe. There will be talks about them being introduced into other libraries.

Sandra said: “We are short of essential things, and demand is going up year on year. I think it is around 10 per cent up last year, and similar the year before.

“The other thing that we are noticing is that around half those we are feeding are children.”

She is concerned how the school summer holidays will affect demand, and fears that children who do not get their school meal may miss out in the holiday period.

There are now 120 organisations which can issue vouchers for the foodbank in Doncaster if they are worried about an individual or a family.

“The primary reasons given are predominantly low income or a switch to universal credit. People have to wait four to five weeks for their money to come through for Univeral Credit. It is for people who are in crisis. The idea is they go to an agency, and they make a decision if there is a crisis.

“But we constantly have to find new ways to get the food in.”

A big donation recently came from a collection in Asda, Bawtry Road. Volunteers gave out leaflets, and shoppers provided with them with more than a third of a tonne in food donations.

And a recent collection at Outwood Academy Adwick, organised by pupils, provided 120kg of food.

The three largest causes for referral to Doncaster Foodbank in 2018-19 accounted for 74 per cent of all referrals. The three causes were benefit changes (1,367 people), low income (1,288 people) and benefit delays (1,147 people). The organisation also runs foodbanks at Bentley and Rossington, based at their local baptist churches.

Among those who has been helped by the Donaster foodbank recently is mum of three Kayleigh Haigh.

Kayleigh, from Hexthorpe, was referred to the foodbank by the central family hub. It was the first time she had needed to visit the site.

She and her family found themselves in a crisis when a number of electrical items in their home broke down at the same time, including the fridge.

She said: “It has been a lifeline for us. They’ve also provided nappies.”

Donations can been made at any time at the Tesco Woodfield Plantation store, near the exits. Urgently needed items are: tinned fruit, UHT milk, tinned meat, long life fruit juice, tinned rice pudding.

Doncaster Foodbank is one of a number of foodbanks operating in Doncaster, with Food Aware running one in Mexborough. There is also the DN7 foodbank operating in Hatfield and Stainforth, and Thorne And Moorends Community Food Bank.