Covid-19 to leave foodbanks vulnerable

Food charities are preparing for an “unprecedented challenge” as foodbanks say they are already getting low on supplies. Panic-buying in reaction to the coronavirus has caused a drop in donations for some foodbanks, while some are also struggling to buy supplies from supermarkets and stores. These charities are also expecting demand to increase if people lose income because they fall sick or have to self-isolate. Because of this they are urging the government to “consider additional measures” to help people on low-income buy food and essentials.

Call for donations

Foodbanks up and down the country are calling for people to donate items and money as they have seen a reduction in donations. Various foodbanks across the country are reporting difficulties. Newcastle West End Foodbank said that it is running short of milk, oil and hygiene products, including toilet paper. Similarly, the Brixton Foodbank reported being “desperately low” of full fat milk and struggling to purchase it. The Caritas Food Collective, an initiative of Caritas Westminster, has also published a statement urging people to donate. Anna Gavurin of the Caritas Food Collective, commented: “Whilst it is understandable that people want their cupboards well stocked in this uncertain time, we mustn’t forget that hundreds of people rely on their local foodbanks – not just for food but also for hygiene items and toilet paper. We urge people to continue or even increase their generosity to foodbanks by donating items or money.”

Charities call for government action

Foodbank networks have stated that coronavirus risks putting more strain on a system which is already struggling to help all of those in need, and are therefore asking the government for further support. The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of more than 1,200 foodbanks, says that with the spread of coronavirus, foodbanks “face an unprecedented challenge and uncertain future”. Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, has said: “It is possible that food banks will face increased demand as people lose income, at the same time as food donations drop or staff and volunteers are unavailable, due to measures rightly put in place to slow the spread of infection. All of this comes when food banks are already dealing with a record level of need for emergency food.”

“We’re working with our network on how best to support people as the situation unfolds. Wherever possible, food banks will continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food to people unable to afford the essentials, and we encourage the public to continue donating after checking with their local food bank what items are most needed. We welcome the Department for Work and Pensions’ measures that will not penalise or sanction people for self-isolating, but we ask our government to go further and consider additional measures they could take to ensure everyone has enough money for essentials at this challenging time. Ending the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment would be one such measure that could help significantly.”

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