12:03PM, Monday 11 July 2022
A foodbank created to help people struggling with supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic has reached its second anniversary with demand for its services at an all-time high.
Burnham Care and Share, an initiative between the Burnham Health Promotion Trust and St Peter’s Church, has gone from operating as a temporary crisis response centre to becoming a permanent resource used by a growing number of people.
Last month it supported 235 adults and 258 children by providing essential daily living items and ‘healthy food bags’. That’s 493 people relying on the foodbank on a regular basis.
Burnham Care and Share was first housed in the village’s May’s Chocolate Shop, but soon outgrew that space, moving to Burnham Park Hall late last year.
As the immediate strains of the pandemic subsided, the cost of living crisis hit the nation turning Burnham Care and Share and other foodbanks from emergency support services into essential providers.
Co-manager Lisa Pope said:
“We always knew that Burnham needed a food bank because the ones around us are in Slough or Maidenhead. There was nothing directly here. The COVID-19 pandemic sort of ‘forced our arm’.
“We have got to two years thanks to the absolute generosity of the people of Burnham.
“Some of them – who can’t afford a lot themselves – bring in regular donations and not just of food, of money as well.”
But despite donations from individuals and schools, organisations like the Burnham Beeches Rotary Club, shops like Budgens, and a grant from Buckinghamshire Council, high demand means that stocks are depleting.
“We are fifty per cent full at the moment which sounds like a lot but it’s not. And especially as the price of everything has gone up.”
When stocks of tinned beans, fish, fruit, uht milk, pasta and rice – the staples – are low Care and Share volunteers have to dip into the savings to top-up the shelves. But using its own funds for petrol and provisions threatens the viability of the service.
Lisa predicts the rise in the demand for their service will go even higher towards the end of the month and going into August and towards the latter end of the year.
“We always experience a rise during the school holidays when people need extra support and then going in to winter time,” she said.
“This year will be the test – whether or not to heat or buy food. That’s what will be going through some families’ minds and whether or not they need us more.”
To survive through what may be a few tough months ahead, Lisa and colleagues at BHPT will be applying for more grants and fundraising and they are looking for donations large and small, particularly items to stock their food bags.
Stocks and funding level may rise and fall, but one thing Lisa is certain of, is that the service isn’t going anywhere.
“We are definitely here to stay. We are not going anywhere in the next few months. We have enough to see us up to winter and beyond that we are looking for people to support us with donations.
“Initially we weren’t sure if it was going to work and it did. People have responded so well to it and I hope they continue to support us.
"The way Burnham has supported its own people over the past two years has been the highlight for me.”
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