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Coronavirus: Hackney Foodbank in desperate plea for food, cash and volunteers

PUBLISHED: 16:38 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:49 16 March 2020

Empty shelves at Hackney Foodbank last month. Picture: Melanie Rochford

Empty shelves at Hackney Foodbank last month. Picture: Melanie Rochford

Melanie Rochford

Hackney Foodbank is in desperate need of stock due to people panic buying – and it is urging people to set up their own food collection points.

The foodbank at the Florence Bennett Centre in Hoxton needs tinned meat, fish and vegetables, rice, pasta, tea, coffee, sugar, longlife milk and juice and toiletries.

It is also low on volunteers as corporate groups have had to cancel their plans to come in for volunteering days and elderly volunteers who would be at risk of catching coronavirus are being asked not to come in. It is looking for people who are not from at-risk groups to lend a hand either at the centre or in the warehouse.

Business and development director Melanie Rochford said the panic buying in supermarkets left the foodbank “seriously concerned” about a reduction in donations.

She said: “To help us deal with the pressure of food shortages, we are encouraging people to consider setting up a food collection point in their workplace, school or place of worship so that we can keep up with the relentless demand.

“We would also encourage people to help us by giving a financial donation as this will enable us to make online food purchases when we hit rock bottom on certain much-needed items.”

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A group of 12 supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Iceland have written a letter to their customers asking them to be “considerate in the way they shop”.

“Buying more than is needed can sometimes mean others will be left without,” they said, and added that they were working with government and suppliers to keep shelves stocked.

Some have also introduced sales restrictions on some items such as anti-bacterial gels, wipes and sprays and hand sanitiser.

Usage of Hackney Foodbank increased last year by 52 per cent compared to 2018. That’s more than 2,500 more mouths fed than in 2018.

Food donations can be dropped off at the base in Cherbury Street from 9am to 2.30pm Monday to Thursday.

Financial donations can be made online here.

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