Coronavirus: King's Lynn Foodbank still in need of donations
King's Lynn Foodbank is still in need of food and monetary donations during the coronavirus pandemic, having fed double the average number of people it usually does last week.
Officials at the foodbank, at TS Vancouver on St Margaret's Lane, said at the moment they are open as usual to provide local people in crisis with emergency food, apart from Wednesdays – and the opening times are set to change slightly next week.
Helen Gilbert, project manager at King's Lynn Food Bank, said last week they fed 205 people, which is up from 90 a week on average.
"This is a vast increase, but yesterday we were back down to normal, we just don't know how it's going to go," she said.
"At the present time we don't know what the long-term impacts are going to be, but we are already seeing people on a reduced income, who are on zero-hour contracts or they have lost their jobs already."
She added: "We really are dealing with the unknown at the moment, but we are taking each day as it comes, trying to deal with whatever is thrown at us."
Helen added that, if the coming weeks continue at the same rate as last week, then they will run short of food in about three or four weeks' time.
"We are going to run out in the not too distant future, so we are trying to get in touch with people to bulk-buy so we can be open as long as possible," she said.
"We are aware that, yes, the Government classes us as a vital resource so we are allowed to stay open, but we are reliant on volunteers and they are putting themselves at risk by leaving home.
"By coming and helping they are increasing their risk of contracting coronavirus, I’m aware of that.
"We have to take that into consideration, but we are still open and providing food."
At the moment, the distribution centre will be closed on Wednesdays, but they will remain open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as normal, so "there is no cause for panic".
From next week, opening hours will also change from 12.30pm till 2.30pm, to noon till 2pm.
Helen said people can still donate food and drink to the foodbank via collection points at supermarkets, although some have changed after reports of items being stolen from the boxes.
Tesco Hardwick is now asking for any foodbank donations to be given to the Customer Services point.
The foodbank has seen a recent surge in donations of Easter Eggs and chocolate – especially from organisations which had been arranging Easter Egg hunts which have since been cancelled – so they are asking that people refrain from donating such items for the time being.
They are in need, however, of items such as tinned tomatoes, tinned potatoes, and other tinned vegetables, as well as tinned puddings and pasta sauces.
"I realise that everybody is restricted in what they can buy, so we have seen fluctuations in our donation points," Helen said.
"Some people are being very generous, and some people are not able to donate things where they normally would, and people can only buy a certain amount of things."
She added: "A big thank you to everyone who is helping and offering their support, it’s very welcome at this time."
Recently, the foodbank has also been "very lucky" to have been loaned a van for a month by an anonymous benefactor.
"That's really making a massive difference with collecting food and delivering to our distribution centre," Helen added.
"We have had lots of financial donations as well, which is equally brilliant."
The foodbank is set to receive £10,000 from West Norfolk Council, to enable them to help those "most in need" during the Covid-19 outbreak.
"We are delighted by this donation from the borough council," Helen said.
"Supply donations have slowed due to people self-isolating and being unable to get out.
"Fortunately we currently have a good number of volunteers but only have three to four weeks of supplies, based on how much we’re currently distributing.
“We have had kind donations of money from the public to keep us going but we are over the moon with this donation.”
Elizabeth Nockolds, deputy leader of the council, said the money had come from the West Norfolk Wins local lottery.
Brian Long, leader of the council, said: “The support that has already been given by the community in West Norfolk during this challenging time has been tremendous and I hope this financial donation goes some way to making a difference.”
More by this authorRebekah Chilvers