Enhance emergency support for people in food crisis
Support for Shropshire food banks and their volunteers to enable them to offer a wider range of services to people in food crisis
Demand for emergency food parcels is growing and is likely to continue with the roll out of Universal Credit. Ten communities across Shropshire now run a food bank. Run by local church groups, food banks rely on the goodwill of their community for food donations and volunteers to run each session. These small organisations provide invaluable support to people in food crisis. Some food banks already offer additional services such as debt counselling or help a local school to address holiday hunger. Each food bank is unique, however additional support may enable food banks to offer additional services such as help with money advice or cookery courses. Support may include training for food bank volunteers or bringing in other services to work alongside volunteers in food bank sessions.
Encouraging partnership working through creating a Shropshire Food Bank Network
Building on the South Shropshire meetings run by the Diocese of Hereford, a Shropshire Food Bank Network would provide the opportunity for food banks to share knowledge and experiences. Creating partnerships with other agencies across Shropshire could enhance the existing referral process and lead to improved signposting to ensure that people in food crisis receive the help they need to improve their situation.
Improve access to emergency food parcels out of hours and in rural areas
All Shropshire food banks cover large geographic areas. With such a large rural county, transport issues can be a major barrier for people needing to visit a food bank. The preference is for recipients to attend a food bank session, as volunteers are able to provide additional support and advice when people need it most. Some food banks have explored delivering food parcels out to rural areas, but have found this to be a complex solution. One possibility is to identify partner organisations who may be able to store emergency parcels so that people can access them when they need them most
Enhance the range of food and non-food items provided in emergency parcels
Food banks rely on the generosity of the community to donate food items. A food parcel is made up of mainly long-life foods, and may also contain toiletries, household essentials and pet food. However sometimes donations do not meet the demand or the specific dietary needs of food bank clients. Food parcels for people living in emergency accommodation can be particularly challenging, as often people on have no access to cooking facilities apart from a kettle. In an ideal world a food parcel would provide nutrition based on government guidelines, however it is difficult for food banks to supply fresh fruit and vegetables. Food parcels could be enhanced by encouraging the community to donate a healthy range of food items and parcels could include cooking suggestions and information on how to make the most of the food. Some food banks have started to innovate to find ways of including fresh fruit and vegetables, either through using supermarket surplus or vouchers which can be used at the local green grocers. A focus on ensuring that people in food crisis have key store cupboard ingredients in their parcels such as salt and cooking oil and basic cooking equipment would help in the longer term. Many people in food crisis would also benefit from the availability of a wider range of household items such as light bulbs, toilet rolls and cleaning equipment.