Many people wonder what happens to the food bank items collected every Saturday at Crystal Palace Food Market. So, on a cold snowy Tuesday morning I went on a ride along with the indomitable pair of women, Karen and Laura who set up and run the market, to see what happens to it all. We headed to St Luke's Church in West Norwood with the goodies donated from last Saturday's market. Contributions are usually much bigger Karen assured me (awful weather tends to dent the footfall at the market) and she also took care to show me the not- so- good items that sometimes end up in the donations bucket stationed at the Haynes Lane end of the market. A sad uncooked chicken lurked dangerously at the bottom of a carrier bag.
Organiser Elizabeth sat at her laptop where she does her best to handle the 200 or so emails that come in daily, and hit me with some hard figures: 800 people came in over the two days they were open during the Christmas period and received more than two tons of food and necessary toiletries; every week through the year it works out at around 80 folk or so who regularly need the extra help. Numbers are highest in the winter months of course because of the cold, which increases both heating bills and appetites.
As Elizabeth said, it’s much easier not to eat when it’s warm. Shortages vary each week depending on what comes in; tinned fruit and veg are currently a big problem as well as toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo. Elizabeth would also love to hear from anyone who could help out at least once a month with “all the social media stuff”.
A large number of mostly female volunteers were busy not just logging the incoming food and toiletries, but meeting with and sitting down with the folk coming in for warmth and assistance. Here at the food bank, people don't just get a bag of much needed sustenance but advice and help moving on to other agencies for whatever they may need.
The sheer level of quiet efficiency was deeply impressive and the whole atmosphere of care and welcome very moving.
It’s easy to be a part of this amazing chain of support weaving through our local neighbourhood and beyond by just remembering to bring something along to the market and dropping it into the donation bucket (preferably in a bag if it’s raining). One day maybe we won't need such things as food banks, but right now, the world is a better place for all the good being done here for those who have hit on hard times.
Check out the food bank website for more info or to volunteer with them: norwoodbrixton.foodbank.org.uk
The donation bucket is at the Crystal Palace Food Market the bottom of Haynes Lane (off Westow Street) every Saturday from 10am to 3pm
CURRENT REQUIREMENTS ARE:
- *Pasta sauce (no pasta please)
- * Full Fat UHT milk (blue cartons)
- * Tinned Pulses
- * Tinned or packet custard
- * Tinned fruit
- * Long life cakes
- * Tinned sponge puddings
- * Shower gel *Toilet Roll *Soap
(PLEASE NOTE We do not need pasta, rice, tea, tinned tomatoes or baked beans at the moment)
We will gladly accept any excess from allotments/gardens - runner beans, courgettes, carrots, potatoes, apples, pears.. anything that keeps well and stores well!