At Dexam we work hard to support the local community. One organisation that we support and that is an important pillorstone in the community and that is the Chichester Foodbank. A reliable source of food for families struggling to afford much needed ingredients, the number of households using foodbanks has increased in recent years. With the price of living increasing all the time and wages staying stagnant, more and more households are struggling to afford the essentials to feed the family. This is where the Chichester Foodbank comes in!
We spoke to Joanne Kondabeka, Project Manager of the Chichester branch, to discover the factors that have led to the rise in dependency of food banks and the importance they play in the society.
Q- How long has the food bank has been operating in Chichester?
- We have been running since September 2012. Presently we have fed 11,260 people through our normal service and since summer 2016 to Christmas 17 we have given out lunch packs to 2059 children.
Q- What percent has the amount of people dependent on the food bank increased?
- Last year 1995 were fed by the foodbank, this year it went up to 2276 which is around a 14% increase.
Q- What factors are leading to people to use the food bank?
- This year the main reasons people are coming to us is 32% low income, 17% Benefit Delays, 16% Benefit Changes and 10% debt. We have seen a 7% increase in people with low income coming to us this year.
Q- How does Dexams’ support contribute to the work of the food bank?
- The Dexam Trust has helped support our Kids lunch pack scheme which provides fortnightly lunch packs for children on free school meals due to low income during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. In Chichester District there are over 1000 children who fall into this category and many families find it hard to feed their children that extra meal in the holidays. We work with the local schools to identify the right families and we provide them with a voucher which they can bring to one of our 4 foodbank centres and exchange it for a lunch pack. This project has meant we have had to expand our capacity to meet the need so we have had to pay for a part time member of staff to develop and run the scheme, pay for shortage food items that are placed in the packs and pay for increased storage space. The Dexam Trust has helped to meet some of the costs we are incurring and we are so grateful for their support.
Here is one of the stories from a client we were able to help last summer:
‘Having had medical problems as an Advanced Skills Teacher and Senior Management of a Boys’ school it was a big decision to leave the teaching profession and train in another career. With five children of our own my husband did not work and was a full time house husband. We had to drop to a third of the salary that I had been bringing home with one of the fears being how we would provide for the children. We took in foreign students and prayed. Then we were granted free school meals status. I would encourage anyone on below £16,100 to apply through their local school. The children then received free school meals and free school transport. The school also received a sum called ‘Pupil premium’ which is extra funding and allows them to improve your child’s school experience how they see fit. Things were still very tight, the summer holidays were approaching and we just did not know how we were going to feed 5 children all day, every day. It was a ‘parent mail’ from the school that answered that question for us. We received vouchers, due to our free school meal status, that allowed us to visit the Food Bank every fortnight through the holidays to collect a food package. The joy and excitement on the kids faces (mine too) as we unpacked the boxes each fortnight was fantastic. There were basics as well as a few naughty things, like biscuits, and a couple of treats, chocolate bars.
I am now a qualified Chartered Accountant in a full time permanent position. We are just pulling ourselves back together and paying off loans. We will never forget the help from the Food Bank, the kindness of their staff/volunteers on our visits and the donators’ generosity. Thank you from a family who pulled through thanks to your help.’
If you want more information on the Chichester Foodbank, or you too want to join in on their efforts, helping those in need, head over to their website. By visiting Chichester Foodbank, you can contribute and support all their important work that they do for the surrounding community.