Empty shelves at Hackney Foodbank during lockdown

Hackney Foodbank is “bracing itself” for a long-term effort in helping get much-needed supplies to residents as demand continues to rise.

The charity fed just over 1,000 people in April – 349 of whom were children.

Speaking at a meeting last week, the Foodbank’s business and development director Melanie Rochford said it is now raising money for a new van in order to deal with the “massive quantities” of food they are having to deliver.

The van will also help the charity comply with London’s forthcoming air quality measures under the Ultra Low Emission Zone in October.

The Foodbank has five centres across the borough, with its busiest centres seeing the number of attendees triple over the past few months.

According to Rochford, one two-and-a-half-hour slot will see 120 people queueing, which by itself does not take into account the size of the household they may have to feed on returning home.

Thanking Cllrs Carole Williams and Polly Billington for rallying community support, Rochford added: “It’s been quite shocking. Lots has happened in the past three months. The need has quite simply ballooned, even more than it was before.

“We thought it was already hard to deal with pre-Covid 19, and then we saw just how ridiculous the levels could get.

“The community support has been brilliant. There have been a lot of people, particularly in Hackney, freelancers, those on furlough or younger people who were not at risk, who were able to step in to provide volunteer support while our largely older group of volunteers had to step away and shield.

“The numbers are still increasing. We’re not seeing them plateau yet. We’re quite concerned, and are bracing ourselves for a long-term issue. We can’t hold it together just on our own. We are a small team.”

Rochford said that in the short term, the space the Foodbank rents from the council at the Florence Bennett Centre is “not enough on its own”, with the charity currently using the multi-storey car park at Here East to store its food.

This solution, however, will not be sustainable in the winter, with food items likely to start freezing in Here East’s car park, with Rochford seeking other council premises to support their efforts.

You can donate to Hackney Foodbank at hackneyfoodbank.churchsuite.co.uk/donate