Numbers seeking support double - can you help Uttlesford foodbank?

Sophie Durlacher of Uttlesford Foodbank

Sophie Durlacher of Uttlesford Foodbank - Credit: Sophie Durlacher

"What would be really nice is cash to pay for our fresh food voucher scheme."

Sophie Durlacher of Uttlesford Foodbank is looking for community help, as well as two new trustees.

Foodbank referral numbers have doubled, linked to the Covid pandemic.

Their collaboration with shops across the district, both supermarkets and independent food shops in Saffron Walden, Dunmow, Thaxted, Stansted and Newport, ensures foodbank clients can choose their own fresh food.

"We give our clients laminated vouchers. They swap that for food. It's a way of getting fresh food to our clients and giving them a degree of choice," she said.

"It can't be spent on alcohol, cigarettes or lottery tickets.

"We have worked out what it's going to cost is £40,000 over the next three years."

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Sophie said people have gifted baked beans and pasta. But they also need items like custard, tinned potatoes, peas and sweetcorn, microwave sponge puddings and toiletries such as children's toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Peanut butter and other donations

Archive image: Stansted Airport staff donated goods to Uttlesford Foodbank - Credit: Stansted Airport

She added: "We have a really nice thing on our website where you can buy a virtual basket of food - it takes you through to our online giving page."

Last year they expanded their warehouse and have access to storage for donations. September to January are normally busy times and last year Sophie said they were fortunate that donations kept coming in.

"We are giving out twice what we were giving out the previous year.

"Our numbers have gone up by over 100 percent."

Sophie said self-employed people have been hit hardest and many people who struggle have lost informal support networks who fed them, such as mum providing a Sunday lunch.

She added: "We have had people turning to us who never in their wildest dreams thought they would need a foodbank."

Sophie said many Uttlesford organisations have been amazingly supportive including Rotary Club members.

Group with a van

The PhysioNet van earlier this year ready for a trip to Yorkshire. Inset, loaded with supplies bound for the Uttlesford Foodbank depot in Shire Hill. - Credit: Rotary Club of Saffron Walden

The foodbank is looking for two trustees, and volunteers can get involved as much or as little as they wish.

She said her volunteers have gone "above and beyond" in the last year. "I can't begin to thank them enough. They have just risen to the occasion."