For most people, the lockdown created a quieter period in their lives, but not so for me. I am involved as a volunteer at two food banks in housing schemes on the outskirts of the city.
Our practices needed to change to accommodate social distancing and prevent the clients from entering the church buildings. We also needed to reduce the number of volunteers to minimize contact. An increased number of clients are being referred to the food banks as their source of income is interrupted. As people isolate at home, it is necessary to do home deliveries.
The general public are incredibly generous, and donations of food and money are forthcoming. This means a lot more collecting and sorting of food and attempts to encourage our donors to give the items that are required by the clients. We are keen to provide a balanced diet.
At the beginning it was difficult to buy items, like toilet rolls, although we did have the money. Before Covid19, we invited the clients to complete a shopping list and the volunteers filled the bags while they waited. This is no longer practical, so it has become necessary to provide standard bags of food depending on the number of people in the household and prepare them on the day before the food bank. When the clients arrive at the food bank, fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables are added and the bags handed out, at a distance. During March to May 2019 we gave 2,709kgs of food to feed 455 people, for the same period this year we have given 6,667kgs to 777 feed people. The figures speak for themselves!
We still need to consider the specific needs of our clients, gluten and lactose intolerant, Halal, vegetarians, allergies, the lack of cooking facilities, fridges and freezers and the ages of the children. It can be quite a challenge!!!
Carrying the food into and out of the food bank is turning me into Edinburgh’s strongest woman!!
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