An ordinary day at the foodbank?
A Baptist minister gives an insight into a day at a foodbank in Bonymaen, Swansea
It was an ordinary Friday at the East Side Food Bank in Bonymaen. It was fairly busy, and counting up the referral vouchers after closing we found slightly more than the average number we’ve seen over recent weeks.
But was it ordinary? Week by week, we are able feed people in crisis.
One of the volunteers coming about half an hour before opening to set up found somebody waiting, not with a voucher but with gifts: a teenager had diverted the funds that would otherwise have gone to Christmas cards for his friends and teachers to buy some of the shortage items he’s read about in the Evening Post.
He wasn’t alone; other people had done the same over Christmas and donated funds. During the course of the morning, other people came in with donations of food, people passing on their way back from a shopping trip, quietly leaving a bag. A couple came with donations from a local church.
The team worked away steadily, sorting and dating the stock, making sure that it is rotated so that everything goes out by its ‘best before’ date. Others meet the clients completing the forms and offering a sympathetic ear if its needed, perhaps being able to suggest some help with their problem.
The storekeepers (people with amazing powers of organisation) make up the parcels while another of the regulars mans the small kitchen, making the drinks and keeping everything spotless. Unseen for most of the time somebody else collected donations from Morrison’s and shopped for shortage items with donated savings stamps.
Locking the door, I reflected on the way that the team who give their time and skill to make this routine happen are channeling immense good will and committed help for unknown fellows.
The Revd Chris Lewis is the chair of the East Side Food Bank, and minister of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Bonymaen