Shoppers help foodbank buy baby formula and free-from food

londis shop owner

Londis shop owner Haps Rai has been supporting the Stowmarket foodbank during the pandemic - Credit: Stowmarket foodbank

A neighbourhood that came together during the Covid crisis to support those who needed a helping hand has been thanked by foodbank organisers.

Shoppers at the Londis store, in Wolsey Road, raised an incredible £2,089 for Stowmarket food bank in the months since June 2020, allowing the food bank to buy items including baby formula and nappies which are not often donated.

Store owner Haps Rai said: “It was around the first lockdown, and we thought, we’ll do something for the community, since there was news that food banks were getting really used. So, we thought, why don’t we try to help contribute?”.

Caroline Davies, of Stowmarket Foodbank, was delighted with their donation and thanked Haps and his customers.

She said: “The shop has been the heart of the community during the pandemic, staying open to serve the needs of the people around them and wanting to continue to support others in the local area.” 

She said Mr Rai provided much needed support to his customers during the pandemic, as well as helping the foodbank.

“I think where the shop is located makes a difference,” said Caroline. “It’s in an area with quite a few bungalows, and a lot of people who were sheltering just shopped round the corner. Haps made sure it was well stocked and that people got everything they needed. He really knows his customers. I think that’s why people have been so generous, because he’s helped them out.” 

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This support is crucial, with reports of a rise in those depending on food banks.  

“Before lockdown, we were perhaps doing 50-60 parcels a month. During lockdown, it went up to 120, effectively doubling. The numbers did settle down a bit, but now, with winter approaching and quite a few people still self-isolating with Covid, people are really feeling the pressure, and so numbers are beginning to rise again.

“Financial donations mean that we can buy additional stock like baby formula, nappies and free-from products, which don’t always get donated. And they really help with our delivery costs, since we cover not only Stowmarket but all the outlying villages, so outside of Bury and Ipswich,  Mendlesham and Claydon.”  

Haps added: “People are a lot more giving when they know it’s going to their local community. People have been helping each other out around here, it's been great.”

He also thanks his customers.

Meanwhile, the East of England Co-op has relaunched their £5 Food Bank Donation Card, urging their customers to support those living in food poverty with the gift of a food donation card. According to joint Chief Executive, Niall O’Keeffe “just one Food Bank Donation Card is enough to provide a week’s worth of emergency food for a family."