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 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?
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!