A message from Chris Neilson (former Church and Community Officer) –
“In 2012/13 Bedford Foodbank fed 2,400 residents, but in 2013/14 that number hit 5,711 – with 49.7 tonnes of food being distributed to its six sites around the borough. The church and other dedicated Christian volunteers are at the heart of it.
I was with Bishop Richard, who was visiting the Bedford foodbank on Friday (16 May 2014) with Richard Howitt – MEP, and Laslo Andor – European Commissioner for Social Affairs. They talked about the growing need for such services and how the European Commission is trying to help.
I have just stopped using my debit card recently, deciding to take and limited amount of cash from the bank at the beginning of the week; when I run out, I won’t have money till the end of the week. I actually decided to take more than I thought I would need, and it has been a huge challenge to me to stay within this budget. It has had a very positive effect on my bank balance and I am becoming much more aware of where my money goes and how much goes very easily. I’ve actually run out twice, and cheekily gone back to the bank. I have the luxury of knowing I can do this, others don’t – when the money is gone, then it’s gone – and this is happening more. When this happens, some people can’t go back to the bank, they either borrow from friends, go hungry, go to high cost lenders or end up at the foodbank looking to feed themselves and their family.
We could discuss the reasons for this, poor budgeting, high prices, low wages, debt or just one tough week. The biggest reason for people visiting food banks is benefit delays, sanctions or administrative errors. The next most common reasons are low income, benefit changes and debt, all these impact on one another, people are running out of the money they need to be able to eat in our communities – and it’s amazing to see the response of people in Bedford.
Many Christians are responding to this need by following the example of Bedford churches and setting up a foodbank, but many more are caring for their friends and neighbours, feeding people in church or helping with a whole array of issues in their community. This is how our community knows that the church is the church of Jesus Christ.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
Thank you to all who are involved meeting needs in your local community. If you are interested in finding out more about your local foodbank, want to set one up, or want to think more about how you can change your community, I’m keen to support parishes in reaching out. “
If you want to know more about foodbanks visit – The Trussell Trust