Sunderland Foodbank: COVID-19 will not stop group tackling hunger: “over 200% increase in the number of people fed”

Sunderland Foodbank has stepped up to the unprecedented challenge posed by the coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks, with a more than three-fold increase in the amount fed.

With an average of 520 people already supported each month, Coordinator Jo Gordon summarised the scale of their work and how they’ve adapted: “Sunderland Foodbank is part of the national network of Trussell Trust Foodbanks. We currently have 8 distribution points spread out across our city.

“Sunderland Foodbank has seen over 200% increase in the number of people fed since the pandemic started. Thankfully our distribution points are still open and are able to support local people in crisis. We have had to change the way we run our foodbank sessions to ensure both the safety of our volunteers and clients.”

Meanwhile, Reverend Simon Burin, of Bethany City Church, one of the foodbank’s distribution points, explained that: “The foodbank has never been so busy.”

Founded by local churches and community groups, support for the project has come from far and wide since its November 2017 opening, particularly in recent weeks.

Jo continued: “We have a brilliant partnership with the Foundation of Light, Gentoo and Sunderland City Council. With their support we have been able to make sure that everything still functions at our warehouse and distribution points.

“Asda and Tesco have between them donated £20 million to be shared between the Trussell Trust, Fareshare and community charities, and Morrisons are donating £10 million of food to foodbanks. B&M and Martin Lewis have also created grant’s for foodbanks to apply for.

“We have also seen an increase in online donations; Bob Mortimer has donated the proceeds from the sale of one of his artworks to Sunderland and Middlesbrough foodbanks, the Red and White Army have led a campaign through social media to raise awareness, and children have also got involved by raising money for us.”

Jo also outlined how it’s still possible to help the ongoing effort: “Our main collection points are at Asda Grangetown, Asda Seaham, Morrisons Seaburn, and Sainsbury’s Fulwell. Donations can also be dropped off at our foodstore.

“We need: Small jars of coffee, Tinned Custard, Tinned Rice pudding, Tinned Fish such as tuna, Tinned Meat such as corned beef, hot dogs, curry, chili, stew, Tinned Potatoes, Tinned fruit, Tinned Vegetables, Toilet roll, UHT milk.”

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