Nourish Community Foodbank is teaming up with social action organisation Imago for this year’s campaign to help cope with the busiest week of the year for the charity.
But Operations Manager at Nourish, Dawn Stanford, says the foodbank is starting this year’s festive campaign, which begins on Sunday, ‘on the back foot’.
She told the Times: “We had the lowest harvest donations – the period in the autumn – we’ve ever had. Normally we get about nine to ten tonnes during the period, but this year we only had just over four tonnes.
“This is really worrying because we are about to hit our busiest time of the year and we are starting on the back foot.”
She continued: “The festive period magnifies how difficult it can be to make ends meet. We really rely on the goodwill of people in our community to make sure our clients have something on their table on Christmas Day.
“The difference a donation makes to people is unbelievable. Last year we had a referral for two teenage girls who were unexpectedly bereaved. They had no extended family and had been surviving for several weeks with limited food.
“We were able to step in, fill their cupboards with food essentials and, thanks to offers of help from some of our wonderful long-term supporters, we could make sure they had a Christmas Day meal without having to worry about the cost of buying food.”
She said with just under six weeks to go until Christmas, Nourish is asking individuals and local schools, churches and businesses to get involved.
As in previous years, the idea behind the 12 Days of Christmas campaign is that people collect an essential foodbag item each day for the first 12 days in December, which is then donated to Nourish to provide a meal to someone in Christmas crisis in the Tunbridge Wells and south Tonbridge area. Last year Nourish hand delivered 169 Christmas foodbags, a 31 per cent increase on 2017, and the foodbank expects demand to have increased this year.
“We know some children get as much joy from collecting food for Nourish as they do when opening their advent calendar!” said Dawn, adding: “With one in eight of our bags going to victims of domestic abuse and 10 per cent going to people who are sick, our delivery service ensures no-one who needs our help misses out.”
She said suggested items for the collection include tinned soup, fish, tomatoes and potatoes, family bags of rice plus curry sauce, toilet roll, toiletries, long-life milk, coffee plus a Christmas treat.
“But no pasta, please,” added Dawn. “We have about six months’ worth so it won’t see somebody’s table until the summer.”
In a first for this year, she added that Nourish is partnering with Imago, who are providing the use of their Crescent Road shop for people to drop in their donations.
Jon Weller, Director of Business Development at Imago’s Community Team, said: “We are delighted to support the Nourish 12 Days of Christmas campaign. As a social action organisation we are committed to making a difference in our local community. Making our shop available to collect donations showcases social action in practice.”
The Imago shop on Crescent Road, opposite the Hotel du Vin, will be open from 12-5pm on December 12 -15 to allow shoppers and visitors to drop off small collections. Larger donations can be dropped off at any time at the Big Yellow Self Storage on Longfield Road until December 18.
Alternatively, making a £3 donation is enough to buy someone a meal over the Christmas period. To find out all the different ways to support Nourish Community Foodbank please visit nourishcommunityfoodbank.org.uk