Coronavirus stockpiling 'will hit vulnerable', says foodbank boss

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Sarah Broughton, project manager at Bedford Foodbank, said it fed 7,333 people in 2019

Stockpiling groceries over coronavirus fears will hit the "most vulnerable" hardest, a food bank boss has warned.

Sarah Broughton, project manager at Bedford Foodbank, said the charity was well-stocked but warned supplies would dwindle if donations dried up.

"If people stop giving in the next six weeks, we will have run out of food," she said.

Stockpiling for "an emergency that may happen" was unfair to people already in crisis, she added.

"The items people stockpile are the items we hand out, and the most vulnerable people we help are not able to stockpile... people who are experiencing crisis need the food now."

Image caption,
Items like toilet rolls were always needed, the food bank said
Image caption,
About 3,500 food parcels were handed out in 2019, with help from Andrea Badman, assistant project manager, and volunteer Chris Newbold

Items such as pasta, toilet roll and soups were most in demand among people "not able to stockpile", she said.

The charity's warehouse currently has 22 tonnes of food, but if no more toilet rolls are donated, it expects to run out in a week's time.

The food bank received 13 tonnes of donations in January, thanks largely to the "fantastic success" of its reverse advent calendar initiative, devised to counter the traditional post-Christmas dip.

But it handed out eight tonnes of food in February.

"Now we are just ticking over. We haven't got a huge amount - this is the slacker time of year." said Ms Broughton.

"We need donations continuously."

Carly Smith, from Bedford, who has used food banks in the past said: "They were a godsend and a lifeline when you feel like you are failing as a parent and you are feeling sick due to not eating.

"Items such as pasta - which is a cheap food item - is what I relied on when I needed it.

"By stockpiling people are taking this away from struggling people and families."

Image caption,
Each item donated has its sell-by date checked and is stored by its expiry date
Image caption,
About 650 food parcels are handed out each month

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