Planning permission was granted in January to the diocese of Hereford’s independent Social Aid charity to operate the food bank from a former Victorian stable block behind the Green Dragon hotel.
Staffed by small team of volunteers, it will distribute food bags and parcels to anyone submitting a voucher issued by social services.
The current food bank distributes around 50 food bags a week, plus ‘crisis food parcels’ for those in desperate need. Initial plans suggest that the new premises will be open to the public twice a week.
Last year, charity-run food banks in the UK fed more than 126,000 people. With the introduction of the government’s harsher regime of benefits cuts this figure is likely to rise to over 200,000 this year.
The Trussell Trust is currently the UK’s largest food bank charity, with over 300 in operation nationwide (there are nine within a 10-mile radius of central Manchester). A typical Trussell food box contains a minimum of three days worth of nutritionally-balanced non-perishable food, with supplies coming from supermarket chains as well as private donations.
Food banks are 21st century models of the American depression era’s soup kitchens. The first opened in Detroit in November 1929, just a month after the Wall Street crash. The first ‘modern’ food bank was set up in Arizona in 1967. Yet in sleepy old Hereford (where reality is so often late turning up), the problem seems to be barely acknowledged.
For many people at the sharp end of the cuts food banks like this are a vital lifeline. We encourage all our readers to help their fellow Herefordians by donating what you can. The current collection list (correct as of February 2013; urgent items in italics) is:
Tinned cold meat
Tinned hot meat
Stews (Irish) etc.
Frey Bentos pies
Sausages in baked beans
Tinned rice pudding
Pasta sauce – jars
Instant noodles etc.
Donations can currently be dropped at:
All Saints church
The diocesan office at the Bishop’s Palace
Hereford Times office