Foodbank is essentially a store where people can deposit food so that people who are in need of food can take it out.  It is aimed at those people and their families who may have a short term emergency need.  For example, a common problem we come across in Sands End is when a benefits payment is slow to be processed or money has run out at the end of the month.  In genuine cases Foodbank can help individuals and families bridge that gap by supplying them with non-perishable foods for 3 days. St Matthew’s has been involved in this initiative, to reach the most deprived parts of our community in Sands End and South Fulham, since its inception.  Foodbank was first created by an organisation called ‘The Trussell Trust’, in Salisbury Wiltshire.  It now has many centres all over the UK.  St Matthew’s has contributed, along with other local churches to pioneer one of the first Foodbank outlets in inner London.

Are there people really going hungry in Sands End?  Yes, here are some statistics on poverty in the Hammersmith and Fulham Borough.

–  27% of residents live in poverty (compared to the average of 17% in England, 18% in London and an inner-London average of 20%).

–  1 in 4 children live in households where the head of the household has never worked.

–  18% of the working age population is on some form of benefits.

–  50% of children live in low income families.

–  Where 1 is the most deprived, this Borough is ranked 38th out of 354 local auhtorities, in terms of average deprivation.

And yes, because we know from experience that there are many who are already helped by people in the church to bridge monthly financial shortfalls.

Who is already involved?

The Hammersmith & Fulham foodbank is an independent charity led by a full-time manager, and a team of Trustees. The Hammersmith & Fulham foodbank was originally started by Christchurch Fulham but always with the intention that it would be an independent ministry ‘owned’ and supported by the wider Church community in LBHF.

OK, so how does it work?

Teams of Foodbank volunteers collect food outside local supermarkets, from churches and schools.  At the supermarket volunteers hand to shoppers a list of items that the Foodbank needs.  Shoppers add one or more of the items from the list to their shopping and pay as normal at the tills, then on the way way out of the store they hand their item(s) to the volunteers to be packed into containers to be taken away to the Foobank store.

The collected food is taken to a central store at Christchurch Fulham in Studderidge Street, where it is checked and then weighed in.  The food is then prepared in boxes for up to three days supply for client in need to come and collect.

How is Foodbank bring Jesus to the people and the people to Jesus?

It’s great that you know the mission statement!  The sign pinned to the wall of St Matthew’s says we are a church for the Sands End community.  So how can we be on the inside, what the sign says about us, on the outside?  How are we a church for the Sands End Community?  Do we do what it says on the tin?

Foodbank is a practical outworking of our desire to meet people in our local community, outside the church community, as Jesus would.  How is St Matthew’s a church for the Sands End Community?  Well this is a practical way we can show the love of Jesus to those in need around us.  We desire to see lives transformed not only through physical provision of food but through the recognition and understanding of how wonderful, unique and loved every single one of us is in the eyes of Jesus.

Can anyone go and collect food for free?

No! There is a system.  Foodbank will be working in partnership with local social services, front line care workers, doctors surgeries and church leaders.  They will have special Foodbank vouchers, which they can fill out and give to those they meet who are in genuine crisis need.  For example, those who need a bridge between benefit payments, those waiting for payments to arrive, such as people recently released from prison.  These vouchers can then be redeemed, at a Foodbank distribution centre, for a three day emergency food supply.  The beauty of Foodbank is that it recognises the importance of working alondside those who are already on the frontline and who can determine whether there is a genuine need or not.

Could this be open to abuse?

There are checks and balances in place to make as sure as possible that only genuine need is met.  Also, Foodbank only offers a short term solution and a client can only collect food on up to three occasions.  Foodbank signposts people to agencies, who are be able to provide appropriate support for the longer term.

OK, sounds really exciting; how can I get involved?Fulham Foodbank

1.  Volunteer.  You may be able to help with store collections (Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco by arrangement with Foodbank Hammersmith & Fulham). For further information, please contact us on 020 7731 3693 or info@hffb.org

2.  Distribution and Packing.  Do you have practical skills?

3.  Fundraising.  You may want to help by raising money through charities and grant applications.  Or individual events.

4.  Social Services.  Are you a frontline worker?  You may already have skills and/or work alongside social services.

5.  Donations.  If you wish to make a private donation through St. Matthew’s church, please do so by placing your donation in the offering box, in an envelope, clearly marked Foodbank.  If you are a UK tax payer please also mark your envelope gift aided.