Deal Area Foodbank was started in 2012 by local people who recognised the need for food provision, opening its doors to voucher holders in December of that year.
We have since grown to having seven food distribution centres in the Deal area, where people with vouchers can pick up 3 days food for themselves and their families. Each centre is also a place where trained volunteers welcome people, listen to them, and provide them with a safe place ‒ as often they arrive feeling humiliated at having to ask for help. This warmth and welcome is as much a part of the process as giving out the food.
Altogether we have over 80 volunteers helping in various roles, supported by a very active Trustee Group, and a Project Coordinator. Some handle the very large amounts of food taken to and from the warehouse. Others attend major supermarket collections that can take place several times a year, bringing in up to 1 tonne of food each time. Still others give freely to help with administration, IT, website and communications.
We live in a very generous and caring community. Donations during 2015, for example, meant that we were able to help over 2000 people across our foodbank outlets and through emergency food boxes provided by partner agencies. The need for foodbanks remains as high as ever.
We are constantly looking for new ways to reach out to those who may be in need and work closely with many local agencies. A key area is the partnership with our voucher-holding agencies who work for the growing number in our communities who experience significant hardship and crises.
In 2016 we added the provision for school holidays, working with schools to identify families most in need during holidays and providing extra vouchers and fresh food where possible. We have also extended our own donations to other local groups who are also feeding people. These include the local homeless centre, the local hospice and a café that provides free breakfasts to children in need.
When we have surplus stock, we share it across a wide area, mainly within East Kent but also extending across southeast England – for example through FareShare and charities working with people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.