Keynsham Food Bank faces growing demand in coronavirus pandemic

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Words by Sam Petherick

A £5,000 grant from our Coronavirus 2020 Response Fund has helped Keynsham Food Bank pivot to a home delivery service.

Quartet Community Foundation is supporting communities in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to take action during and after the Coronavirus outbreak.

Keynsham Food Bank provides three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced food to people in need.

It has been forced to make major operational changes just as its service reaches more people than ever before.

As the pandemic led to the closure of all UK schools, volunteers lost access to the school classroom which served as the food bank’s storage warehouse.

Treasurer Mike Knight said “we had to move pretty sharpish” into a commercial storage facility, which the food bank is footing the bill for.

The grant will help cover the costs of the rent and allow the food bank to buy additional food supplies so it can support more people.

“Quartet is ideal for our needs,” Mike Knight said. “We put in a bid and I’m pleased to say we got £5,000 which is great.”

The food bank relies on donations from generous members of the public.

It has two collection points in Tesco and Waitrose in Keynsham and a notice tells customers what items are most needed.

Usage of Keynsham Food Bank increased by 50% last year as it was visited by 1,200 people.

And over the past month, Mr Knight said more people appear to be using the service than ever before.

“What we’ve seen in the first three-four weeks of the new financial year, we’ve already fed as many people as we did in three months last year.

“We’re expecting that to continue for some considerable amount of time.”

Before the pandemic, Keynsham Food Bank handed out food parcels from churches and church halls in Keynsham and Saltford.

Social distancing requirements meant people could no longer enter and have a tea or coffee, and some were uncomfortable with having to wait outside in public to use the food bank.

So to tackle this, the food bank has started delivering all food to people using the Keynsham Dial-a-Ride service. The three distribution centres still prepare the food bags in the morning and then Dial-a-Ride pick them up and deliver them in the afternoon.

“There’s no requirement for people to come in – we take the food to them now,” Mr Knight said.

He said the charity has over 100 brilliant volunteers and said they continue to encourage the public to donate food if they can. To find out more you can visit www.keynsham.foodbank.org.uk

Local charitable organisations can apply online for a grant from Quartet if they meet the criteria – details are at https://quartetcf.org.uk/grant-programmes/coronavirus-response-fund