A year ago someone came to the food bank in crisis because of an issue with debt. Last week she came back. Her husband had left to go off with their babysitter, leaving her with three young children to look after and their finances in a mess.
This is just one typical story. There are as many personal stories as there are foodbank customers, but the general common denominator is that people, self-respecting people who wish for nothing more than a normal life with a job and a happy home, fall into crisis and visit the Foodbank as a last resort, as a result of a referral from another charity or agency. It becomes all the more poignant where children are involved, and they make up one third of those we feed.
Truro Foodbank fed over 19,000 meals last year to 2,121 people in crisis who were referred to us by other charities and agencies.
We look set for an increase in that number this year. In each case those coming to us receive a food parcel with a three day supply of nutritionally balanced food and, just as importantly, a listening ear from one of our volunteers or staff and, where appropriate, and offer of prayer.
Truro Foodbank is just one over 400 Foodbanks within the network of the Trussell Trust, which last year gave 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. Out of humble origins has grown this nationwide movement that has not only fed the hungry but has raised the consciousness of society to the issue of food poverty in our supposedly affluent country.
I can say with complete confidence that this has been a prophetic move of God, working through his church. I was privileged to be one of the trustees of the Trussell Trust in 2004 when the nationwide Foodbank network was launched, with a vision to grow 50 Foodbanks within five years from a starting point of one. It seemed huge at the time and was rooted simply in the faith that this was what God was calling us to do, rather than in the availability of finance (there was none) or even substantiated fact. There were no statistics to prove the need and indeed to begin with there was opposition in some quarters from those who said that food poverty did not exist in their communities; God alone knew the real need behind closed doors, which only became apparent once the early Foodbanks were opened.
The launch of the Foodbank network was inspired by Jesus’s words in Matthew 25:36: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”. This was the spark that lit the flame that became the fire, and that’s what happens when Christians take small, faltering steps of faith in response to a vision God has given them. God provides the growth.
And so back to Truro. Truro Foodbank has grown from within the churches, with All Saints Highertown and Truro Methodist Church providing amazing support as the base and outlets for the operation, with a number of other churches also generously providing volunteers and financial support. But it’s also the community at large that provides so much of the vital lifeblood of the Foodbank – the ongoing donation of a tin here, a bag of pasta there as part of a regular shopping trip, or when we have food collections or donations at times such as harvest.
Now however, for the first time, we are starting to see food donations decline, even as our numbers fed look set to rise with the arrival of universal credit. This is not peculiar to Truro, it’s a national trend and perhaps is a result of people’s resources being stretched. Our other vital needs are for finance and for volunteers. Our finances are under pressure, but are essential in order to fund our overheads and our small but very dedicated team of part-time foodbank staff – Bob, Janet and Andy.
This continues to be God’s work, done in his way and trusting in his resources, as we witness to his name by feeding those in crisis. So thank you for the support of so many who will be reading this, and please go on. And if this is new to you, please consider joining the cause with donations of food, finance or time, as you are able.
You’ll be hearing a lot about the Foodbank over the next month, as we are calling this September “Foodbank Month” with a number of events going on.
For further information on how to donate or get involved, please visit https://truro.foodbank.org.uk
Chair of Trustees for Truro Foodbank
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.