Coronavirus: Food bank braces for demand as new base dropped in

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New Forest Basics Bank
From left are trustees Trevor Gaught, David da Cuhna, Trina Hart and chair Oliver Stanley (Photo: Steve West)

A NEW home for the New Forest Basics Bank was hoisted into place on Tuesday.

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The Modulek building, located behind the Roman Catholic church off the High Street, will give the vital service much more space than its previous base to store, pack and send out food parcels to the needy.

Chairman Oliver Stanley said: “The arrival of this new building signals a really exciting chapter for the food bank.

“With the new building offering nine times more space than the cabin, we will be able to work much more efficiently with our stock management, and this will save us the added expense of container storage.

“It really does give us a wonderful platform for the next phase of how we can operate moving forward, building on the exceptionally hard work laid down by our predecessors.”

New Forest Basics Bank
Part of the New Forest Basics Bank’s new base is craned in, near Lymington High Street (Photo: Steve West)

Trustee David da Cunha, who has been instrumental in coordinating the new building, said: “The total cost is about £230,000 of which local authorities have given us £95,000.

“£50,000 from Lymington and Pennington Town Council, New Milton Town Council £15,000, and NFDC £30,000.

“The remainder has come from our own resources and the generosity of the public, including local businesses, and we as trustees are incredibly grateful to the wider community for their support and generosity to enable this project to be successfully completed.”

The charity is bracing itself for a rise in demand as the coronavirus crisis worsens, and while it is currently coping well, many of the volunteers aged 70-plus and might have to self-isolate if the government brings in new rules

Mr Stanley said: “I have been in extensive talks with various other local groups who will assist us should the need arise. We will not be in a position where people will go without the food they need. I won’t let that happen.”

The trend nationwide has seen a fall in donations to food banks, which is a knock-on effect from those who have chosen to stockpile for their own use in the face of the crisis.

If the government closes schools, this could add further pressure on the food stocks at the food bank, as there will be added demand from those whose children would otherwise receive free school meals.

It is anticipated there will be an immediate spike in food bank usage by those who are self-employed on low income, and who need to self-isolate without pay.

Mr Stanley added: “Whilst our stocks are fair at the moment, if food donations fall and demand increases, this could change quickly. The supermarkets are challenged with customers panic-buying in response to the crisis, which means that some food items are limited.

“I have had very productive talks with Tesco who are bending over backwards to help us maintain the level of stock items we need to satisfy the demand. It’s as difficult for them as it is for us, but they are being really helpful ensuring we get somewhere near to our quota.”

 Donations of tinned meats and stews, tinned vegetables, pasta sauces, curry sauces, tinned fish, tinned fruits, custard and rice pudding, tea, coffee, UHT milk, noodles, cuppa soups, biscuits and toiletries are always welcome, especially at this difficult time.

These can be made at local supermarkets that have collection points or at the current Basics Bank behind the United Reformed Church off the High Street.

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