Foodbank's fresh appeal as demand soars

ROTHERHAM Foodbank has helped a record number of families this winter \_ thanks to supporters who donated 31 tons of food during 2017.

ROTHERHAM Foodbank has helped a record number of families this winter - thanks to supporters who donated 31 tons of food during 2017.

The last four months have been the busiest yet for the charity, which gives out vital parcels of food in exchange for vouchers from services like children centres, GPs and Citizens Advice.

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The foodbank is making a fresh appeal for help after donations dropped off in the past two months, while praising supporters who have gone so far as to order shopping online and send it to the charity.

Foodbank manager Steve Prosser (pictured) said: “Before we entered into the Christmas period, our record was 152 vouchers in a month.

“We had 165 in November, 189 in December, 230 in January and last month there were 175. The food we gave out supported more than 400 people in January alone.

“We said at the time that it had become really busy last summer. Now the levels which were previously our spike times of year are what we’re at consistently.”

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He added: “It should calm down. I keep saying that but it keeps failing to do so.”

Generous supporters helped the total amount of donations rise to 31 tons in 2017 from 28 the previous year.

Steve said: “It’s a staggering effort. But the amount going out has increased by more than that level.

“This year we’re planning to do more of our own collections at supermarkets.

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“We have set a target this year of increasing the amount by five tons this year compared to 2017. 

“If we can get to that amount, or even close to it, we’ll have done well.”

Shortly before Christmas, the foodbank - run by Hope Church at its Grove Road base - expanded its storage into a garage at the same site, helping to accommodate the 8.6 tons donated in December.

Volunteer Phil Shepherd joked that he is the foodbank’s Mr Bean after spending the past few weeks sorting more than 1,200 tins of baked beans into date order. 

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He said: “I just get it all straightened out and then a new batch comes in!”

Retired Phil (68), whose wife Barbara also volunteers, added: “We belong to the church and this just gives you a real sense of purpose. We feel we’re doing a service for God. It’s part of helping our community.”

Donations fell to 2.4 tons in January and 1.2 last month. 

On the wanted list this month are fruit, custard, pasta sauces, carrots, fish and juices.

Steve said: “It’s very early in the year for us to be low on certain types of food. But we have a lot more people now getting in touch with us before they donate to find out what we are actually short of. 

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“We have enough beans to last about a century, and we are always appreciative of any food donations, but if we can get across what we need, things run much better.

“The cash support has also meant we’ve been able to purchase our own food, based on what we need. 

“Before, we have been totally dependent on what was actually donated.”

Some supporters have begun buying internet orders from supermarkets and having them delivered to the foodbank.

Steve said: “That idea wasn’t initiated by us at all. 

“It was a couple of folk asking us via Facebook, and we said it was fine it can be delivered during our opening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”