Grace Food Bank

Report on recent foodbank activity

We have been delivering all food parcels since the end of March and will continue to do so while this is the safest
option for our clients and volunteers. We have (largely) kept to a referral model. Early in lockdown
we understood that getting a referral was very difficult for some people and were generous in our approach to self referrals. Now that support services are available we have returned to our normal policy of only accepting self-referrals
for one week, where there is clear and urgent need, and then signposting the client to a service where they can get a
referral. The move to telephone advice services makes it harder to fully assess the problems that many are facing.
Our food supply has been ample for our needs and we have been able to give food away to other local foodbanks when
they have needed it. We haven’t seen the dramatic rise in referrals that some foodbanks have reported. We believe
that this is at least partly due to the rise in “pop-up” emergency food suppliers who didn’t require referrals and
the fact that some Sheffield foodbanks moved away from a referrals based system to an open access system. We know
that some people are accessing food from more than one place each week. Without a Sheffield-wide referral system
(which is unlikely to happen) there isn’t really a way of stopping this or even monitoring it. We do continue to be
concerned that just supplying food does not help people to get back to financial independence because debts and
arrears quickly mount up when not dealt with.
The Michael Church have been very generous in allowing us to use the worship space, lounge, a small room and the
entrance lobby area for packing, storage and Healthy Holidays. We have now largely retreated back to the Manse
but continue to use the lounge. This helps us to maintain social distancing during our Monday foodbank sessions.
We are now planning for the October half term Healthy Holidays project and will be supplying 120 recipe packs for
partners to distribute.
Meet and Eat remains suspended as it cannot be run in a socially distanced manner.

Jeanne Clarke