A food bank which was opened for one day a week is now operating six days and in less than a week has provided food parcels to hundreds of local people in need.
Each day people are waiting outside His Grace Food Bank on Beulah Road which normally opens every Tuesday is now operating 2pm to 4pm daily except for Sunday.
A Chronicle appeal resulted in donations to the food bank from local people and a collection of a thousand plastic bags to help package up food parcels. More donations are needed and as Pastor Bola Thomas explains: “we are short of money as we are having to buy many supplies.”
People who have never used a food bank before are turning up at 11am to queue for food. An exhausted Pastor Bola Thomas spoke to the Chronicle about how last week they distributed food to 50 other organisations as many of the other food banks have forced to close either because they are run by older people who are now vulnerable or have run out of resources.
His Grace were fortunate enough to have received a donation from fast food chain McDonald’s who gave away free food to charities after closing all its restaurants because of the coronavirus outbreak and delivered boxes and boxes of bacon to Thornton Heath food banks.
Meat is in short supply and so the bacon was much appreciated.
The food bank has provided food packages to individuals and families in need via pick up and volunteers have been making deliveries to elderly and other vulnerable individuals with at least 50 benefiting each day.
Volunteers are using their own cars to deliver resources as the food bank doesn’t have a delivery van. They also go out each morning to supermarkets to collect food.
Pastor Bola, said: “We’ve also been able to distribute bulk food to other food distribution centres in Croydon such as charities, churches, clubs, care homes, NHS centres, other food banks, food drop centres, local projects and other community groups who are then able to redistribute to their service users.
“All this was done through our supply from McDonald’s which is now completely distributed.
“We would appreciate donation as they are seriously needed. We will be delighted if you can help.”
Pastor Bola, explains how no one gave them PPE and they had to buy masks and gloves for all their volunteers to ensure they are protected. She has stopped taking new volunteers in the food bank and is relying on a small team because she knows who they are in contact with so is able to ensure there is no contamination.
When The Chronicle visited the food bank a couple from a baptist church in New Addington arrived by car to collect meat, bread and milk for food parcels to distribute in their locality.
Donors also turn up with Amber Ratcliffe, from Purley, arriving with two bags of shopping from a support group which she handed to Pastor Bola (pictured).
Pastor Bola knows many of the recipients by their first name and knows their back story. She says hello to one user telling him to ‘look after yourself’ and many stop to say a personal ‘thank you’.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking, A husband and wife aged 82 and 79 turned up having been unable to get help and they were sent home and told their food would be delivered to their door.
Welling up Pastor Bola added: “They shouldn’t be on the street. It is so sad to see those things, elderly people struggling people with mental illness. I don’t want to cry.”
One woman, a regular user with four children was grateful for her food parcel and explained how she ‘was just doing what I can to keep” her children safe by keeping them indoors.
Here are some of the items the food bank needs:
Any canned, tinned and packaged food such as baked beans, sugar, soup, fish, pasta, spaghetti, corn beef, hotdogs, canned fruits and biscuits.
Any vegetables, spices, peppers and fruits, spring onions, onions, carrots, basil, corns, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Dairy products such as long life milk, butter, cheese, bread, and rice.
Fresh and frozen products meat, poultry, and fish.
Personal care products such as sanitary towels, baby nappies, baby food, toothpaste, toothbrush, body spray, shampoo, bath soap, shower gel and deodorants.
Hot and cold drinks: tea bags, coffee, hot chocolate, any kind of juice and drinks.
Contact : 07946 546 507 or 0208 653 4433.
*His Grace Evangelical Outreach has moved its church services to online via Skype and other social media platforms.