Sheffield's biggest food bank launches new drive to fund one million meals for city residents
“It’s the sheer scale of our operation now that we want people to see”, said Chris Hardy, manager of Sheffield’s S6 Foodbank.
What started as a local charity helping around 155 people in 2020 has now “exploded” into a food bank with ten sites across the city, providing more than 1,200 people with groceries and essentials, week in, week out.
And today the S6 Foodbank launches a new campaign called For All Sheffield, backed by the Sheffield Telegraph, to raise £150,000 and provide one million meals in the next year.
The team is now responsible for 10 foodbank sites across the city, stretching from Crookes to Sharrow and from Woodhouse to Firth Park, with more to come.
Chris said: “In the last year the numbers of people using our food banks have just exploded. They have gone up and now we have to bring the food in.
“Our passion is for local people helping local people and Sheffield people are amazing at that.”
A year ago, the charity processed 1.7 tonnes of food through its main warehouse site on Gilpin Street.
Today, it is 13 tonnes. An average week may include 3,000 toilet rolls being distributed, and 5,000 litres of milk and juice.
This massive change means the food bank relies on cash donations more than ever, as it allows them to buy items in bulk, and plan ahead in a targeted way, helping as many people as possible.
Chris added: “ If you come into our warehouse and see 4,000 fruit juices it looks like a huge amount, but in two weeks they will be gone.”
The food bank is expecting demand to grow further, as the furlough scheme for workers provided during the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
It hopes that by increasing the amount of people who donate on a monthly basis, as well as one off donations and donations of food, it can meet that demand.
Chris added: “A lot of food banks, when Covid hit, were struggling. We opened new sites in places like Woodhouse and Sharrow because we didn’t want people to have to walk too far to get their food. We wouldn’t be where we are now without every person that has donated.”
One support of the food bank is The Milestone Group, which runs Kelham Island food hall Cutlery Works, restaurant The Milestone, and is the chosen operator for the new Cambridge Street Collective in the city centre.
Nina Patel-Bigland, from The Milestone Group, said: “We believe that good food is a necessity, not a luxury. We know that the past year has been hard for many of us in Sheffield and the pandemic has hit the most vulnerable, the hardest, increasing foodbank usage to an all time high.
"We have been partnering with S6 Foodbank for years in an effort to combat hunger in our community, but over the last 12 months especially, we really wanted to try and give something back and combat this ever-growing issue. In our sites we see the smiles that good food can bring to peoples’ faces and right now more than ever, it is important to help spread this across Sheffield.”
A number of events will be held through the year to inspire people to get involved with the campaign, followed by the Sheffield Telegraph.
Visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/ForAllSheffield to donate or follow progress at @s6foodbank and https://sheffields6.foodbank.org.uk/.