Responding to the local situation early on in the pandemic, St Peter & St Paul’s Church in Gosberton (near Spalding), launched their own food bank to help families with school children and other individuals who were struggling to make ends meet.

“We could see that many families around the country would be badly hit by the 'lockdown' and locally headteachers, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and other agencies confirmed that some families were finding it very hard. We also learned of others who were isolating at home, who were ill or otherwise having a crisis. I was delighted when Michael and Kath Strutt, who attend our church in Gosberton had the determination to get involved and were soon joined by others in putting a plan together,” said Revd Ian Walters.  

Setting up a food bank is no mean feat as it requires knowledge of the rules and regulations on handling food, use-by and sell-by dates and what you cannot give away. There are differences between the establishment of a short-term fix for those in need or a long-term venture in which case you may benefit from registering it as a charity. The team at Gosberton registered the existence of the venture with the district council and various county-wide organisations and the first few days were a crash course in finding out what regulations should be followed, and being up to speed with the frequently updated advice being issued.

The decision made, a team of a dozen or so people, from the church and wider community, including those who learned of the idea via Facebook formed a team to collect, sort, pack and deliver food parcels. The head teachers of three primary schools locally were extremely grateful that we could help the needy families they knew about and some of the food parcels were delivered to the schools for collection. A committed team have been buying, packing and delivering food to people in need in five local villages.

In a short space of time they were helping over 70 families, a figure now slightly reducing and are anticipating continuing the foodbank for the next few months at least. The local Citizen’s Advice, district council and social services have referred new cases to the team, as do concerned neighbours and friends in the area. Local church members have received thank you letters and cards and these and Facebook comments show that the Food Bank has raised the profile of the local churches as people who care and have taken action to help the needy.

Debbie Reynolds, one of the key helpers, said: “Everyone has been very kind and generous and we couldn’t have done this without the donations from local food companies, cash donations from the parish, district and county councils and of course everyone at the church. This was a massive learning curve for all of us and we have learnt so much in so many different areas – planning, logistics, regulations and harnessing the community spirit.  We are thinking of how this might fit into our church mission going into the future as we realise poverty of this nature may be here to stay.”

Debbie says, “If anyone is thinking of doing this from their church, we would be very happy to share our experiences so we can all learn from one another.”

 Please do get in touch with the team via Debbie Reynolds  ([email protected] or Tel 01775 840694) if you would like to learn more about how to run a local food bank, or if you would like to donate to Gosberton Food Bank Food donations can be left at the vicarage or at the church porch in Gosberton.

Money donations can be made by cheque to Gosberton PCC  or online to the account Ref 20-80-78 Ac 30446815 (Put Ref Food Bank)