Market Drayton food bank opens its doors

Reverend Martin Tanner Reverend Martin Tanner said the food bank would provide short-term help for people 'in crisis'

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A Shropshire food bank has opened its doors to support families in need.

The Reverend Martin Tanner, vicar of St Mary's in Market Drayton, said it had been inspired by a knock at his door 10 months ago.

"I was writing my sermon when a local man came to my door. He said he had not eaten for two days," he said.

After making him a sandwich and giving him tins of food, Mr Tanner said he had rewritten his sermon to ask if the town could provide support.

The Market Drayton food bank, one of more than 200 in the Trussell Trust network, said talks with social workers and others had suggested there was a "real need" in the area.

Waiting for benefits

"Agencies have been very supportive and grateful," project manager Helen McSherry said.

One of those hoping to use the food bank is Matt Carter, 29, who said: "It can be very stressful and just knowing there is something here, like a safety net that you can come to in the hour of need, when you're rock bottom - it's a massive help."

Based at the community centre and operating on Tuesday and Fridays, the food bank opened its doors at 09:30 GMT and received its first customers 10 minutes later.

More than 160 vouchers have been distributed to housing associations, social workers, health visitors, midwives, job centres and teachers to allow them to refer individuals and families to the food bank.

Mr Tanner said those relying on food banks were typically waiting for benefits to start and needed short-term help. He said in some cases clients were in work, but faced an unexpected bill.

He said: "Anyone can find themselves in crisis. There's an increasing need as prices are going up for everyone, food, fuel, utility bills.

"For some, the squeeze is too much."

'Tonnes of food'

After working with other churches in the town, Mr Tanner said two public meetings had been held to ask the local community what they thought of the scheme.

He said about 50 volunteers were now involved in the project, half of whom were still being checked and trained.

The volunteers helped raise more than £1,500 to set up the food bank and collect about two tonnes of food.

Mr Tanner said: "We stood outside one supermarket for 12 hours and asked people to buy just one thing to give to us on the way out."

Ms McSherry said about 700kg of products were donated by the shoppers, one of whom handed over four bags of goods.

She said the group planned to work with other supermarkets in the area, one of which had already nominated them as their official charity of the year.

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