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Food bank appeals for more volunteers
FOOD banks are providing a vital lifeline to hungry families in west Dorset, say organisers.
However, more volunteers are needed to help sort and distribute the food.
Bridport already has the charity Cupboard Love, started by the Rev Andrew Evans in 2011.
Now Beaminster’s Children’s Centre also runs a food bank – and the need is growing.
The Rev Evans said now the charity was better known they were getting more and more referrals from different organisations, from the Citizens’ Advice to schools, mental health teams and the probation service.
He said: “The number of organisations referring to us has grown exponentially and the need certainly hasn’t declined in any way.”
Beaminster Children’s Centre leader Nicola Shoemark, who started the food bank earlier this year, said there had been a marked increase of families in need.
She said: “We saw a steep increase in the summer and we put that down to the families who get free school meals in term time.
“It is shocking and there has been a lot in the news about people not being able afford to cook what they have been given. That is just going to get worse not better and it is worrying.”
Mrs Shoemark said they set up the food bank in response to pleas from local schools who said they had children who were hungry.
At first the centre collected parcels from the Dorchester food bank but that become unrealistic and the scheme was set up in Beaminster.
Now there is also a voucher scheme that means struggling families can get fresh produce.
Mrs Shoemark said the townspeople had been generous and so far nearly £600 of vouchers have been donated. Primary schools have also shown their support in both Bridport and Beaminster by donating their harvest festival produce.
Unlike other food banks the centre isn’t just a ‘sticking plaster’ response, she said.
She added: “We don’t just give out food we work with the families to try and get them back on an even keel.
“Sometimes it is just an interim need and for others it is more seeing if they are getting the right benefits or how can we help them get back into work.”
Mrs Shoemark said families are so grateful they pledge to give vouchers themselves when they can and they are also encouraged to become volunteers.
She said: “We were not expecting it to take off as well as it has and it is time consuming to go up to the shops, collect the boxes, sort and date the food, get parcels ready and deliver them.”
Beaminster county councillor Rebecca Knox, said: “Many of us take fresh produce for granted and I think that everyone should be able to enjoy good quality meat, fruit and vegetables. Thanks to the support of the children’s centre, local shopkeepers and members of the community, we are now making this happen and I’m delighted that the scheme is a success.”
- For details about the food bank, contact Beaminster Children’s Centre on 01308 861030. Vouchers can be bought from Nick Tett butchers, Fruit ‘N’ Two Veg, Beaminster Pharmacy and dried and tinned foods can be left at the children’s centre, Barton House Medical Centre, Yarn Barton, local churches and primary schools.