Stop panic buying: How you can help region’s foodbanks during coronavirus crisis

Maureen Reynel MBE, who founded FIND 29 years ago, says she could lose up to 70% of her volunteers f

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 BROWN - Credit: Archant

Foodbanks in Suffolk are pleading for support and for shoppers to refrain from panic buying as coronavirus pressure mounts.

Foodbanks in Suffolk are calling for more support as the coronavirus crisis sees more families needi

Foodbanks in Suffolk are calling for more support as the coronavirus crisis sees more families needing help Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

According to food bank owners, the virus is seeing a spike in those needing help, while also limiting the number of volunteers.

Maureen Reynel MBE, who runs the Families In Need foodbank in Ipswich, said: “I’ve got so many more referrals because of this – it’s looking like we are going to have to distribute more than 130 food parcels a week because of this.

“I need the food coming in if these referrals are going to keep going up and up – there are so many more people self-isolating now too in need of food.

“And my goodness is the panic buying so frustrating. If people could just understand that there is enough food and supplies in the shops to go around, then things would be so much easier.”

Amanda Bloomfield said the best way to help the foodbank in Bury St Edmunds is to donate cash rather

Amanda Bloomfield said the best way to help the foodbank in Bury St Edmunds is to donate cash rather than food Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

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Mrs Reynel added further stress has mounted, with many of her volunteers – who are in the high-risk bracket for the virus – in self-isolation.

“So many of my volunteers are over the age of 70 and they aren’t coming in to help anymore – some of them have underlying health conditions and I understand that, but we need help.

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“Since the council has closed its buildings, some of their staff are now going to come and work for us to lend a hand.

“Right now we need to be good to our neighbours and think about our communities – we need to look back to go forward.”

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Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse, which runs a food bank in Bury St Edmunds, called on the public to give cash donations.

Ms Bloomfield said: “It is difficult as we don’t know how to plan for a crisis like this.

“We’ve been delivering to people who are self-isolating, but the problem is we don’t actually have a delivery service – we have asked local businesses if they could lend us a van but the prices they ask for are too expensive.

“We have a lot of food and supplies left over since Christmas, and with the panic buying in supermarkets it could see less food on the shelves. With cash, we can buy things as and when we need it, leaving more for others.”

Ms Bloomfield added that foodbanks nationwide could see more complications, as people self-isolating may be unable to obtain vouchers or referrals from local governments.

She said: “As long as our staff and volunteers are fit and healthy, we will keep our store running.”

Monetary donations can be given to Gatehouse here and to FIND here.

What can you give to help food banks? • 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

MORE: All of our coronavirus coverage so far

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