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We are on a mission to reduce the amount of waste caused by single use coffee cups and so have developed an initiative to help towards this. We charge a 10p surplus for every drink bought using a disposable cup, with the aim of encouraging our customers to bring along their own reusables. In doing this we have decided to donate the money raised through the 10p cup charge to different charities throughout the year.
One of our current charity partners is The Canterbury Food Bank. We spoke to Liam Waghorn, the Food Bank's Operation's Manager to find out more about their work.
1 - What is your charity’s mission?
Although the solutions may be complex, the vision of the charity is simple: To live in a society where food banks are no longer necessary. This might be possible in the longer term, but current evidence strongly suggests that in the short to medium term at least services such as that provided by Canterbury Food Bank will continue to provide crucial lifelines to those in need.
And as with the charity’s vision, its mission is equally simple: To continue ‘supporting local people in crisis’, via the provision of emergency food parcels.
The nature of crisis isn’t one dimensional, it manifests itself in a multitude of forms and is driven by many factors. But the resulting impact is common, that of not being able to put food on the table. Hunger cannot be delayed - it is immediate and requires immediate solutions.
2 - What are the main challenges that your charity is facing at the moment?
The cost of living crisis is affecting Canterbury Food Bank at both ends. Demand is increasing as more and more people begin to struggle financially, and at the same time people have less space in their weekly budgets to donate food or money to us. At the same time food inflation has been extremely high. In March 2023 food inflation hit 19.2% which was the highest annual inflation rate for over 45 years, this has had a another big impact on us as we have to buy in a lot of the food with give out in our food parcels in order to be able to meet the current levels of demand.
3 - What is the best way for people to support your charity?
People can really help us by donating food at their nearest supermarket that houses one of our collection points. They can find their nearest one using our website. People can also download the bankthefood app here to keep up to date with items we are running low on.
Alternatively people can donate financially through our website to help us meet our overhead costs.
4 - What is your organisation’s biggest achievement so far?
The Covid 19 pandemic presented a number of challenges to many businesses and organisations. Pre Pandemic Canterbury Food Bank was running a series of community cafes where people would come to collect parcels. This had to stop completely at the start of the first lockdown meaning we had to completely change our operating model almost overnight. Moving to a delivery model whilst keeping up with steeply increasing demand has taken enormous amounts of hard work and planning. Meeting these challenges and continuing to adapt to accommodate huge increases in demand within the context of a cost of living crisis probably represents the biggest achievement of the charity so far.
Since the start of the pandemic, demand has increased steeply. By the end of December 2022, demand had increased by 152% since December 2019.
Nearly 100,00 meals (98,901) were distributed in 2022 to those in financial difficulty, 50% higher than in 2021.
5 - Is there anything specific you’d like to change about the way people perceive food banks?
Whilst awareness of food banks has increased over the past 18 months given the difficulties many people are facing, there are still a number of prevailing myths about the use of food banks. One we hear occasionally is that people will use food banks to get free food so that they can spend money on cigarettes/sky/flat screen tvs etc, an idea encouraged through certain irresponsible media outlets, some politicians and tv programmes. Our experience is that this is not the case. Food Bank use is often a last resort for people who have often tried everything else. We often hear about feelings of shame. But it takes courage to admit you need support.
And, yes, we provide free food but it is basics to get people through a serious situation.
So perceptions are changing, we just need to continue to talk to people, be open about how we operate and demonstrate the benefits of what we do and in time hopefully some of those old myths will die away.
You can find out more about what The Canterbury Food Bank do by visiting us at our stores in Whitstable, Canterbury and Herne Bay. We are also able to refer you to their services if you need to access a food bank.