Banbury Foodbank set to expand reach

A vital service that provides food for vulnerable families and individuals in Banbury is set to expand into Grimsbury next month.

Since its inception in October 2011, Banbury Foodbank has helped prevent thousands of families from going hungry thanks to a food collection point at its base at the People’s Church in Horse Fair.

David Stapleton, project manager, confirmed an additional drop-in service will be opened in West Street, Grimsbury in early July.

Mr Stapleton said: “We had no sense of how big the need was in Banbury. What we were surprised about was how big the volume has been and the sort of crisis people had got themselves in. The town and the community have been absolutely amazing in the amount of food they have donated.”

Mr Stapleton said the foodbank is also in initial discussions about the possibility of another drop-in service on the Hardwick estate. If agreed, it could be put in place by September.

The foodbank works by receiving non-perishable foods donated by the public, either on supermarket collection days or from churches, schools and individuals.

Frontline care professionals then give foodbank vouchers to people in crisis and they exchange them for a three-day supply of food. The supplies are put into four categories; single person, single person with one or two children, two adults with one or two children and two adults with more than two children.

Mr Stapleton, who is part of the five-strong foodbank warehouse team, said: “Our future goal for 2014 is to have foodbank centres open five days a week and extend the warehouse team to support the centres. We know where most of our vulnerable clients live but the People’s Church only opens two days a week for two hours.

“Churches and schools have always been really good in donating foods during festival such as harvest. There are also anonymous individuals who donate lots which has been quite amazing and we have received a lot of encouragement and support from Cherwell District Council.”

Figures dating until June 2014 show 1,781 people were fed by the Banbury Foodbank during 2013/14, including 1,022 adults and 759 children. This was compared to only 203 in 2011/12, 109 adults and 94 children.

In 2011/12 2,250kg of food was donated and 123kg distributed, with 13,996kg donated and 11,969kg distributed in 2013/14. The items not distributed are kept in stock.

Thirty per cent of clients who use the foodbank live in the Grimsbury & Castle ward, with 20 per cent living in Ruscote, 11 per cent in Neithrop and ten per cent in Hardwick.

Nearly sixty per cent of people only use a foodbank voucher once, with nearly 20 per cent using a voucher twice. So far, more than 3,000 people have been referred by agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Christians Against Poverty. Thirty two per cent of referrals were because of benefit delays and 21 per cent because of low income.

A three-day supermarket collection will be held at Tesco in Banbury from July 3-5. Items urgently needed include milk (UHT), sugar, fruit juice, instant mashed potato, tinned meat and tinned vegetables. Visit, email or call 01295 661304 for details.