During the Covid-19 pandemic, local foodbanks have seen greatly increased demand. These community organisations often provide services beyond the simple provision of food. Many have been adapting to best meet the needs of their clients and responding to changes in supply and demand. As the most recent lockdown is gradually relaxed it seems an interesting time to hear how our local schemes are faring.
Southwark Food Bank – Pecan:
Southwark Foodbank have just released their end of year statistics, reporting to the year ending March 2021. During this time they have supported 18,879 people, 7,089 of which were children. This is an increase of 289% from the previous year. Southwark Foodbank have issued 8,043 emergency foodbank parcels, which is an increase of 240%.
The Trussell Trust, which Pecan is part of, wants to do more to help reduce the need for foodbanks. They report the main reasons people need to use foodbanks are: problems with the benefits system, challenging life experiences or ill-health, and lack of formal or informal support.
Pecan is one of the organisations behind Peckham Pantry, a membership scheme that aims to make members' money go further. Participants pay a small fee for each shop, to gain access to fresh fruit, vegetables and store cupboard staples.
Recent graduate James Hudson
has volunteered at Peckham Pantry. He writes: "After graduating from university last summer and having some time before I started my job, I spent 3 weeks volunteering on a farm on a remote island in the Shetlands (population 6) and then 2 months volunteering at the Peckham Pantry. I was interested in doing something more local to home and as the Pantry was fairly newly set up at that point they were looking for volunteers to help. I did 2 and a half days each week and responsibilities included helping new people sign up to the scheme, restocking shelves and dealing with deliveries. The shop was well stocked with a wide range of produce such as fresh meat, fruit and vegetables etc, so customers had a good choice to suit their needs. It was interesting to notice how much busier the shop became over the time I was there, probably a combination of it being more widely publicised and the impact of Covid. I enjoyed the experience of volunteering there, working with a good team of other people and supporting my local community."
You can see more about Pecan here
and the Peckham Pantry here
Albrighton Community Fridge,
based in nearby Dog Kennel Hill Estate, provided this update: We have been struggling quite a bit with increasing numbers of customers and lagging donations. Our user data showed an increase from about 70 people per day in the first lockdown, to 110 by the early Autumn, and again to approximately 150 per day in March of this year.
While it's too soon to say, our numbers do seem to be dipping again slightly. This might be a promising sign that some of our customers are returning to work and finding their feet again as things are beginning to open up.
Nevertheless, there's still a clear shortfall in the food we've been able to distribute. We're incredibly grateful to all of the individual, charity and business donations we receive. They have been a huge help but it can often feel like we're precariously scraping by.
What really helps with this is donations of tinned and long shelf life foods which can constitute a ready made meal. For example, tinned meats, curries, ravioli etc. These sorts of things are extremely useful for people with limited cooking facilities (or culinary knowledge/time). They can also be relied upon when donations are sparse, and help to break the cycle of having either excess quantities of perishable foods or nothing much at all - this is neither good for our customers nor our efforts to reduce food waste!
You can see more about the Community Fridge here
The Copleston Centre
reports: For the past year we have been running “Real Meals”, a delivery and collection food service primarily for older people, but also for others in our community who might benefit from a meal and keeping in contact with the centre. We have been working with popular local cafes and restaurants Codfellas, Cool Caribbean, Crossroads Cafe, Level Six Food, Manze and Nandine, who provide the food thanks to additional funding and donations.
We are in the process of merging the best of the Real Meals project with the return of Copleston Community Cafe so watch this space!
In the meantime, if you would like to join our (currently online) Silver Soca Caribbean Dance, Music Appreciation or Tai Chi classes (All £1.50 for people over 65 and £3 for others) do get in touch. We also have a face-to-face and online counselling and Immediate Emotional Support services.
We are always looking for volunteers to support our programme.
For more information on any of the above, please email Ann
or telephone 020 77323435.
have been operating their Walworth Community Food Hub since the first lockdown and are still delivering to hundreds of families each week. They are now looking at long-term solutions to the food insecurity which existed even before the Covid-19 pandemic. The approach they’re introducing is The Walworth Neighbourhood Food Model. This will feature a whole range of activities: a community café, a kitchen for healthy cook and eat sessions, access to a low cost pantry, and a hospitality venue to generate employment. All will use produce from East St Market and allow communities to connect and take part in activities together.
You can see more about this project here