The donation is part of our £20 million three-year investment in food charities FareShare and the Trussell Trust and enabled the food bank to employ Netty Walker, pictured centre, freeing up current co-ordinator Vic Ponsonby (pictured right) to look into some of the root causes of long-term poverty in the city.
Vic has been the co-ordinator of the food bank since 2013 and has seen the demand for food banks increase dramatically during that time. In 2011 there were four food banks in north Liverpool and now there are 13. Last year they served 11,236 people – an increase of 40% on the previous year.
Vic said: “We don’t want to be handing out food parcels for the next few years. We want to help people become self-sufficient. If it goes well I should be doing myself out of a job – I certainly don’t want to retire in this position!
“In my experience, no one wants to have to go to a food bank. It’s not good for the ego or your self-worth. That’s why we’ve started looking at other projects that can help people who are stuck in long-term poverty.”
One of the first projects she’s working on is developing a community pantry where members pay a small weekly fee to join – up to £4 – and can shop for £25 worth of food in return.
“With a food pantry or community shop you get a choice in what you buy; you don’t get that with food parcels. And you shop with other people. We can provide teas and coffees in the shop and we can start to tackle social isolation.”
The first pantry should be open in the autumn. It will be supplied with food from a variety of sources including FareShare which takes surplus food from Asda and other businesses.
Our grant for Liverpool will also be used to help set up shared storage facilities the Trussell Trust can use for all its food banks in the city.
Our Walton store's community champion Lorraine Ambrose works closely with North Liverpool Foodbank, co-ordinating with the team on fundraising activities, building awareness of their work and handing over donations from the store's permanent collection for the food bank.
She said: "Our customers are very generous and the food bank is very well supported. Once the collection trolley is full, I move the donations to a large produce box and the trust collects around 17 of these once a fortnight."
Vic added: “My experience of Asda customers from doing collections and talking to people at collection points is they’re all very generous. A lot of people understand where we’re coming from and are more than happy to donate. I’d like to say thank you from us. Everything helps – even a bag of sugar or a tin of tuna.
“We’re always overrun with tinned beans and tins of peas. We like to vary food parcels so if we’re giving a parcel to a family with three tins of veg in it’s nice to be able to offer a variety. We always need tinned fish, fruit, vegetables, and UHT milk.”