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‘Stop being selfish’: Foodbank bosses call for calm in supermarkets

PUBLISHED: 17:56 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:56 16 March 2020

Maureen Reynel MBE is asking shoppers to leave stock on shelves so it can be donated to foodbanks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maureen Reynel MBE is asking shoppers to leave stock on shelves so it can be donated to foodbanks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Food banks are under pressure like never before due to the coronavirus crisis – two food bank managers tell us how the vital services are being impacted.

Maureen Reynel MBE, who founded FIND 29 years ago, says she could lose up to 70% of her volunteers for months if over 70s are told to self-isolate Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMaureen Reynel MBE, who founded FIND 29 years ago, says she could lose up to 70% of her volunteers for months if over 70s are told to self-isolate Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maureen Reynel MBE is the founder of Ipswich foodbank, Families in Need (FIND), is attempting to deliver hundreds of food parcels a week in the face of empty shelves due to stockpiling. The charity delivered more than 6,500 parcels in 2019.

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Mrs Reynel said: “It’s a really sad situation. My volunteers are going to supermarkets to collect donations and they’re finding empty shelves.

Ipswich foodbank FIND delivered more than 6,500 food parcels in 2019 Picture: Neil DidsburyIpswich foodbank FIND delivered more than 6,500 food parcels in 2019 Picture: Neil Didsbury

“We don’t have a food shortage in this country, it’s the panic buying that is the problem.

“If I saw someone in a store stockpiling food, I’d have a loud and heated argument with my husband about it with them in earshot.

“I’d make sure they hear me say ‘we don’t need that many, put one back’.

FIND Founder Maureen Reynel MBE says breakfast is one of the most important things the foodbank can provide - setting adults and children up with a healthy meal for the day Picture: RACHEL EDGEFIND Founder Maureen Reynel MBE says breakfast is one of the most important things the foodbank can provide - setting adults and children up with a healthy meal for the day Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“We need people to stop being selfish and think of others, we’re trying to deliver up to 130 parcels a week.”

FIND volunteers will gather donations from supermarkets on a regular basis, but empty shelves due to panic buying have left them with little to gather.

When they do manage to fill a trolley, other stressed shoppers have turned on them and verbally abused them in the aisles.

Angela Gregg, pictured with Neil Bevis, heard that items were reportedly being taken from their donation trollies in the town's Morrisons supermarket Picture: ANGELA GREGGAngela Gregg, pictured with Neil Bevis, heard that items were reportedly being taken from their donation trollies in the town's Morrisons supermarket Picture: ANGELA GREGG

“Two of our volunteers were in the supermarket last week and were subjected to a long rant from a woman when she saw all the food in their trolley,” said Mrs Reynel.

“When she finished they explained what they were doing I understand she was very apologetic, but from now on I’m going to send my volunteers out in tabards so it’s clear they are with FIND.”

Mrs Reynel said that she is facing a potential staff shortage as well – she estimates more than 70% of her volunteers are more than 70 years old and may be unable to help her if they self isolate.

“We don’t have a collection service as part of the foodbank, our volunteers deliver all of these food parcels,” she added.

“I need younger people who are able to give up some time to get in touch.”

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Some of the items FIND most need donated are:

• Fresh food

• Tinned potatoes

• Tinned carrots

• Tinned peas

• Tinned sweetcorn

• Tinned fruit (in juice not syrup)

• Whole milk

• Long grain rice

• Cream crackers

• Pasta sauce

• Tinned corned beef

• Minced beef

• Stewing steak

• Tinned meatballs

• Jars of hot dogs

You can either donate these at participating East of England Co-ops, Futura Park’s Waitrose and Warren Heath’s Sainsbury’s.

You can also limit the number of these items you buy in supermarkets so they can be donated by staff.

READ MORE: Reports of two positive coronavirus cases at Felixstowe nursery

Hadleigh residents were appalled at reports of customers in the town’s Morrisons supermarket taking items out of the donations trolley for the local foodbank.

Angela Gregg, who runs the Hadleigh Foodbank, said: “Unfortunately it was reported that items were being taken from the foodbank trolley in Morrisons and we had to move it inside the kiosk.

“These are worrying times for everyone and we understand people’s concerns but we must also be mindful of those who are self isolating and have the potential virus are and these people will be our priority along with genuine families in need of our support.

“We will see a surge in recommendations when more sanctions and restrictions are in place.

“We would like people to continue to donate and we will clear the trollies more often but we are also asking for financial donations which can be used to buy things like milk, bread and butter.”

Hadleigh Foodbank are in need of donations, in particular pasta sauces, curry sauces, tinned vegetables and toiletries for men, women and children.

• Contact hadleighfoodbank@gmail.com for details on how to donate to those needing support in the Hadleigh area.

• Call 01473 833351 to speak to FIND or leave a message if you are able to volunteer to deliver food parcels for the foodbank.


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