IN today’s world of Michelin star restaurants and celebrity chefs, it might be hard for some to believe there are still people living in Northamptonshire who do not have enough money for food.
That is a fact which has not been forgotten by organisers of the Northampton Food Bank, who have moved into a new “hub and distribution point” at the Nene Enterprise Centre in Freehold Street, Northampton.
Such is the demand for their service, which provides food parcels for those families most in need, that this step of finding a home from which to work has been a necessary one.
The launch earlier this month was attended by Northampton North MP, Michael Ellis.
Steve Gee, a pastor at the Central Vineyard Church, which founded this independent Food Bank, explained: “Before, we were reliant on using people’s spare rooms and garages. We were storing bits and bobs all over the town.”
There will also be a change in the way the volunteer-run Food Bank operates, to help the organisation cope with demand.
Referrals have previously always come through different agencies, such as SureStart centres and the Citizens Advice Bureau, which put those in need in contact with the Food Bank and organisers would deliver the packages around Northampton.
The Food Bank will now distribute vouchers to these agencies so food can be collected by the families concerned, from the Freehold Street base or a number of other distribution points based at several other churches in Northampton.
When the Food Bank first started, it was helping about four or five people a week. This year it has been distributing food packages to 40 families a week.
Steve said: “Last year we helped upwards of 250 families and another 200 at Christmas. This year it has been 40 a week.
“We are covering people in the midst of crisis. If something goes wrong with your budget, everything gets disturbed and that can put families and individuals in a precarious position. We have seen middle-class families where someone has been made redundant and where they have no resources and find themselves in trouble.
“We have delivered food parcels to Hunsbury and other areas where you wouldn’t expect you would need to go.”
He added: “I have seen some of the statistics for people out of work and the numbers are frightening.”
Organisers at the Food Bank also want to extend their service to identify some of the core issues which have led to financial breakdown and try to offer some advice to help people out of the crisis they have found themselves in to stop it happening again.
The food parcels are formed from collections made across the town at locations such as churches and supermarkets.
The Food Bank is always in need of food donations and at the moment one particular shortage is in pasta sauces and tinned fruit. Donations can be made at many locations, including the church in Abington Park and Emmanuel Church, Weston Favell.
To find out more, log onto www.centralvineyard.co.uk