Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Sufra's Coronavirus Emergency Appeal: 'The situation is dire'

From  Rajesh and the team at Sufra Foodbank,

“It’s like being in a war zone,” remarked one of our guests. “No bombs or guns, but widespread panic and confusion – plus the fear that some of our nearest and dearest may not survive.”

It’s going to be tough, but Sufra plans to stay open throughout this crisis to ensure that emergency food and support is available to the most vulnerable – yet again, they are the ones who will suffer most.

But I won’t lie: the situation is dire. 

Supermarket shelves are empty. Whilst some fight over the last toilet roll in the store, the donations we rely on to keep the Food Bank open are dwindling and we are struggling to source and buy the huge amount of food we distribute every week.

For the first time ever, we are reducing how much we pack in our food parcels to ensure that our stocks can last the duration of the pandemic. We’re also re-organising our services to protect our vulnerable guests (not to mention volunteers and staff) from infection.

Last Friday, rather than welcoming our guests inside to enjoy a community meal with us, staff and guests were left heartbroken when we were forced to provide our freshly cooked meal in a takeaway container.

Similarly, during Food Bank we are having to hand-out smaller food parcels at the entrance, rather than inviting people in to pick their own fresh fruit and vegetables and speak to our volunteer advisors.

This is a fast-changing situation and we are holding emergency meetings every couple of days to make sure we are doing everything we can to support those who rely on us for food, toiletries and support.

Every day we are asking ourselves: How long will our stocks last? What do we do when we can’t buy more food or toiletries for our guests? How will we provide food and support when staff and volunteers start to self-isolate? 

Coronavirus Emergency Appeal 

This is the biggest crisis Sufra has ever faced. The year 2020 already brought with it the highest demand for the Food Bank in our history and the Coronavirus is now exacerbating the situation.

The families we support simply can’t afford to panic buy and hoard food; they’re already knocking on our door in search of basic supplies. But this is just the tip of the iceberg… The UK is on the precipice of a recession, which means financial donations to Sufra will decline, while poverty and inequality increase even further.

Add to this Universal Credit, low wages, unaffordable rent and the impact of Brexit on food prices, and you can see why this really is such a toxic environment for a food bank like Sufra and the people who depend on us.

Support Our Guests Today

That’s why we launched a Coronavirus Emergency Appeal last week to ask for your support during this extraordinary period of crisis. We know from our experience that when we unite as a community, we can always find a way to support those in need.

Click here to donate.

Every £25 you give will provide an emergency food parcel to two people in desperate need, while £50 will feed a family of four. This includes nappies, milk and nutritious food for babies – essential needs for a family with children. 

But what we desperately need in the period ahead is long-term support. Please consider setting up a monthly standing order through this page so that we can continue to address the most pressing needs of those who walk through our doors.

Alternatively, you can send us food items through an online shop – find out how here. At the time of writing, supermarkets are struggling online too, so please get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss a safe arrangement for a drop-off at our centre.
Write to Your MP!

Food banks shouldn’t exist in one of the world’s richest countries – they are a sign of gross injustice and contravene the basic human right to food.

When a crisis like Covid-19 hits the UK, it should be clear to everyone why comprehensive and effective safety nets need to be in place to protect the most vulnerable in society. Not just now, but always.

If enough people demand something, governments are forced to listen.  

So please consider asking your MP to urgently address the root causes of the poverty driving people to food banks.

You can find out how to do that here thanks to the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN).

Sufra is one of IFAN’s founding partners and we are working with them to support their advocacy and campaigning work, including urging the government to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus on children’s nutrition – especially those who rely on free school meals. Read more here.

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