Foodbank hopes its volunteers can stay well

Alsager and District Foodbank organisers said this week the service was in more demand than ever during the coronavirus outbreak. They told the Chronicle their main challenges were ensuring donations kept arriving and keeping volunteers in good health. Demand had surged following school closures and volunteers are now preparing a subsitute for children’s free school meals. Frontline professionals identify people in need in the community and issue them with a voucher that can be spent at the food bank. Foodbank coordinator Tracey Abbott said: “We've got to hope that not only the food comes in but our volunteers keep well, too.” Mrs Abbott said she and her fellow volunteers first experienced minor problems three weeks ago but they were able to overcome them. However as the pandemic had worsened, the need for food banks had risen. She added: “People are very willing to donate but everyone's struggling to get food for families because of the restrictions; it's difficult. “I have been shopping and the amount of criticism I have had from people claiming that I am stockpiling.” Despite the rise in demand for supplies from Alsager and District Foodbank, Mrs Abbott said it was still largely the same people visiting the food bank as it was before the coronavirus crisis. Mrs Abbott said this was due to people still awaiting their final pay packet. She said: “If they are getting laid off they still have their last pay cheque to come, and then people will get referred.
“As people get laid off then we will feel more in need of giving out, to supply people with food.” Following the prime minister's announcement on Monday, that the country is to go into lockdown, there will be greater demand on the foodbank as some residents will be unable to leave their homes to shop. With supermarkets banning the purchasing of multiple items, it has made it increasingly difficult for local food banks to generate stock as less people are willing to spare items.