Coronavirus: Hackney Foodbank ‘up against it’ as emergency food packages run low

Empty shelves at Hackney Foodbank this week.

Hackney Foodbank is repeating calls for aid as it “desperately” puts together emergency food parcels which look set to run out within days as the coronavirus crisis escalates.

Despite a recent community response to help it keep serving the borough’s most vulnerable which the Foodbank says has been “amazing”, staple items continue to run low as the charity struggles with a spike in demand.

Melanie Rochford of Hackney Foodbank said the organisation had seen an increase in use since Islington Foodbank closed its doors; by way of example, a busy day on Thursday at St Mary’s Church in Stoke Newington would usually see 60 clients arrive, and last Thursday the Foodbank served 90.

Rochford said: “Looking at the shelves today, we’re still very much on the empty side of all staple items. While people are still able to bring us donations, then we would encourage them to do that, and we will collect from the door at the warehouse.

“We’re all aware that this is going to be with us for a good while yet, so even online deliveries that have a bit of a wait would still help us to top up over the longer term.

“It’s OK for this week, but for next week, we’re seriously worried about being able to give people the emergency food parcels that we’re desperately putting together right now. We are very much up against it.”

You can give help to the Foodbank here –

Last Monday a call was put out for younger volunteers who are not at as great a risk of severe illness from coronavirus as long-standing staff members over 70, who have been forced to step back and self-isolate.

The response was so great that the Foodbank is now putting volunteers on a waiting list, as it prepares for a point in crisis where some currently helping may have to be off sick with the virus.

As of today, items most urgently needed for donation at the Foodbank are:

  • UHT milk
  • Weetabix
  • Baked beans/tinned pasta
  • Tinned pulses (kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Tinned veg
  • Tinned fruit
  • Coffee in 100g
  • Pasta sauce
  • Long life juice
  • Toilet roll

Following a conference with other food banks across London, supermarket chain Asda has agreed to waive the rationing of bulk buys for members of staff from the organisations.

Rochford says the Foodbank’s “big fear” is whether anything will be on the shelves for them to buy in quantity, though has said that staff, who have been given key worker status, are willing to arrive and stock up whenever the next delivery comes in, even if it arrives in the middle of the night.

Rochford added: “It really is one day at a time. We don’t want to close our doors, and as long we’re still allowed to stay open, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We don’t want to let down the people who most need the help.”

More information on how and when to donate food can be found here.