Behind the scenes at Margate food service that had to ban two people for selling on parcels

John Finnegan is coordinator at the St Austin & St Gregory food service

A food bank service in Margate says it has had to ban two people after they were found to be selling items on.

The St Austin and St Gregory’s food parcels delivery services operate a rolling system so people ask once and they then receive one parcel per week until they no longer need the help.

But, despite the service having to fundraise and ask for donations to keep stocked and running, some people have been taking the parcels and then selling them.

Food bank donation

Food service coordinator John Finnegan said: “We don’t run a voucher system, we take everyone at face value. We do expect that people will be honest and tell us they can manage without a food parcel when the time is right.
“We run a three tick policy on deliveries: if we try to deliver a food parcel and you are not in three times in a row, you will be removed from our list.

“We have also had to ban two people because they were found to be selling the food on.

“We have to look forward to this situation for some time to come. Things are going to be tough for everyone especially in Thanet.”

St Austin and St Gregory’s Food Bank has been supporting people in Margate for the last 35 years, offering a vital food parcel service for those in need. In normal circumstances, around 50-60 people a week, would come to the food bank to collect much needed goods.

During the pandemic, the food bank has adapted to provide a delivery service offering essential items including long-life food – tinned goods, bread, pasta and vegetables. The food bank has seen a high increase in demand and is now serving around 160 parcels over a three-day period to families, those that are homeless, and recently, those that are self-employed but cannot work because of the Covid-19 crisis.

How to help?

Donate food directly – every tin and pack of pasta helps – either to 38 Charlotte Place or get in touch on facebook here or email [email protected] for it to be picked up.

A day at the food parcel service with volunteer Darryn de la Soul:

 

Each day we pack up the parcels for the following day – we do around 50 each day, three days a week.

First thing in the morning we add anything that was refrigerated overnight, plus bread – either gorgeous delicious fresh bread which we often get from a bakery – or bread from the freezer. The bags are too full to accommodate the bread as well, so we count out the correct number for each of the five drivers into a separate box.

Most mornings we get random foodstuffs from the local Tesco – whatever they have that’s on its last days. Anything from fruit to bread to herbs to croissants. These then need to be added to the bags as they go out to the drivers. This can be a bit hectic.

Once the drivers have gone, the packers arrive and we get the next day’s goods ready. Most days we get two and sometimes three bulk deliveries from Fare Share, a dedicated lady who shops for us at Aldi’s and the wonderful team at Ramsgate Town Council who are doing an incredible job distributing food all over Thanet. They are really doing a superb job.

These require unloading and then sorting in the packing room, after which we go back to packing up the food parcels.

Eggs get delivered in large boxes and need to be divided up into boxes of 6, so we appreciate anyone who saves their egg boxes for us! Also many of the recipients are really good at returning egg boxes for re-use.

During the morning we also get wonderful people who bring donations and others who come and register for receiving food parcels – usually at least two a day, often more, and we give them one to go away with then and there. We also get two or three requests on email or facebook most days. It’s crazy how many people are really in need.

There are a lot of interruptions to the packing process – all of them good! But it takes time.

It’s amazing how quickly we get through what looks like an enormous pile of food – the tables look really full, but the piles dwindle super-fast.

We are also starting to add non food items like washing liquid, soaps. I’d like to be able to add razors, more ladies sanitary items as well, but priority is obviously things you can eat.

It’s a busy old day! Then back home to plan the routes for the next day. With people being added all the time many routes have to be juggled. I have, however, now got the routes into sensible starting points so juggling is a bit easier each time.

And this is all done by volunteers!

15 Comments

  1. It is highly difficult to believe that some people have the nerve to ‘sell’ foodbank food on. I am glad the culprits have been barred from using this needy service.
    Well done Mr Finnegan for this splendid service. Keep it up!

  2. This had to happen, this is Thanet after all, where for some money for drugs and booze is more important than food. The big trouble is it will make donors think twice about doing their bit to help when it is only a small minority that are taking the system for a ride – well, I hope it is just the few!

  3. Why oh why does one unwholesome individual have to ruin it for everyone else!
    Like the commenter previously it will make donors think twice and its the people who really need it who will suffer. We are all trying to help each other at this unprecedented time but it will make us all wonder ‘what is happening to the items I give’ SO VERY DISAPPOINTED, Scum!

    • Yes, it does now make you wonder what happens to the items given.

      I visit Tesco, Westwood 3 – 4 times per week, and always get extra items to place in the food donation basket, it always gives me a great feeling, that the little items are helping someone in some way, or are they being re-sold?

      • Phil, the food put into the donation basket at Tesco Extra Westwood goes to the Trussell Trust with the nearest one being in Deal so although it gets to the needy, unfortunately, it is not helping the needy locally. You may do better to drop it off yourself to Glo Gen behind B&Q or at the Tesco in Cliftonville as that goes to Thanet Foodlink to be issued. locally.

        • Hi Kent Resident, I never knew that, thanks for the information.

          I will change my plans. I suspect the majority of people who donate food there, also don’t know it is not for locals.

  4. Well done to all those volunteers involved.

    Shame about the two people being dishonest, but at least they are out of the system now.

  5. Chap knocked on my door few weeks ago trying to sell on food that was from food bank, I live in Milton Ave and know the food bank well, so said my piece and sent him packing.

  6. A few weeks ago I saw a youngish man and women walking either side of a busy road, picking up cigarette ends! Is this what our country has come to, when even young people are out picking up dog ends, have they no shame! I don’t remember seeing this in the 40’s 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s and the last 20 years, and don’t get me going about beggars!

    • It’s not really fair to comment on people like this, without knowing their circumstances. They are most likely unemployed, and possibly even homeless.

      Have you ever been unemployed, and struggled to pay the mortgage/rent?

      • Yes, I knew what poverty was after my mum and I with a new baby brother came back from being evacuated after the war, we had nothing but what we stood up in, we shared a terraced house with another family, and my Dad, and I when he came back from the war, would scavenge for bits of coal along railway tracks, that had fallen from steam trains, in order to keep warm! There were no supermarkets in those days, and my mum would put me in a queue to hold her place, whilst she went to another shop! Queuing was what we did, day in day out for precious little food, which was rationed worse after the war than during it!

        Later when we had a council house, we kept rabbits for the pot, and chickens for eggs (and the pot), and grew our own vegetables, including from an allotment where I did most of the weeding, and I was not yet 10! My dad worked 60 hours a week in a dairy bottling plant, that is twenty hours more than most people work a week now! And my mum had a cleaning job three mornings a week, how she did that, and kept house for five of us I do not know! When I was 12 I got a paper round for 6 shillings and sixpence a week, and had to give my mum half! Saturdays a gang of us kids would go collecting waste paper from various streets, in old prams, and trolleys we had made, pushing this sometimes very heavy loads several miles to a collecting point. One day we all received 5 shillings and sixpence, and I gave half to my mum!

        We were no different to other people, but we did have pride, and worked hard to get the country back on its feet again, that’s what annoys me, these people have no work ethic, or shame, and would sooner ponce off people rather than work!

        • This is a totally different situation, in a different time, with different causes.

          Back in the day, when we used to live in a shoe box.

          • That is a sad response to someone outlining his upbringing, very little difference to mine and my wife’s. I suggest you listen and learn and be grateful.

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