Helensburgh & Lomond Foodbank – September 2020 Update

Newsletter from Mary McGinley, Chairman, Helensburgh & Lomond Foodbank

To all our Volunteers and Supporters,

I hope that you and your families are all keeping safe and well.

Thank you to all who have donated food and cash to the Foodbank we greatly appreciate your continuing support.  We remain busy with an increase of 25% in the number of people attending compared to the same period last year. During September we issued 201 bags of food to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity, these bags supported 248 adults and 79 children, 15% of those attending had never used a Foodbank before. Unfortunately this reflects the challenges facing those on low incomes, those whose hours have been reduced and the unemployed.

We continue to offer a drop-in Foodbank Service three times each week in Helensburgh Red Cross Hall and once a week at the Howie Pavilion in Roseneath. Due to Covid restrictions we can only offer a walk through – give and go food service rather than the café type service we offered prior to Covid. As we are no longer permitted to provide teas and coffees or to sit down and have a one to one conversation with each person who attends we are missing this important social support side of our service. We still provide a warm welcome and a friendly word to all who attend and know that many of those who attend experience significant social isolation and may also have worries about money and other concerns. Therefore, in collaboration with the Independent Food Aid Network we have produced an easy to follow leaflet to help signpost people to local advice services including Citizens Advice, Argyll & Bute Welfare Support and Housing Services. These leaflets are placed in each food bag so that those who need help have information to access local agencies. Other relevant information leaflets are also made available in the food bags. While we are all missing the Café style service we know that it is more important to follow Scottish Government Guidance and keep volunteers and those attending as safe as possible while providing everyone who attends with a supply of food for themselves or their family.

Each bag of food issued provides a daily supply of food which should last 5 to 6 days. The amount of food given is increased according to the size of family and provides breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack and fruit. We recently had the contents of our basic bag of food reviewed by a Student Dietician from Dundee University who following detailed analysis was able to report that our existing food bag provides a well- balanced nutritious range of food and is sufficient to meet dietary requirements. While none of us would like to have to rely mainly on tinned food including tinned meat, tinned fish, tinned vegetables, soup and beans and would find it unappetitising, it is good to know that our bag of food meets basic nutritional needs.  During August and September in order to make the food more palatable we have added more fresh produce to every food bag. This is possible thanks to the generosity of those who have donated money some of which has been used to purchase cheese, eggs, potatoes and vegetables from local suppliers to supplement the usual tins and non-perishable food. One of our Team Leaders has prepared recipes which adds some extras such as garlic and stock cubes this helps to introduce new ideas on how to make a nutritious and interesting meal using some of the tins provided in the food bags.

Thank you to all who have dropped off food at the Red Cross Hall Garage or at our baskets in the Co-operative and McColls, thanks also to Morrisions for donations and to the Gingerbread Man for donating freshly baked bread for every session. We were pleased to receive several Harvest Giving Donations from local churches who despite Covid were able to celebrate this important event in their Church Year and donated a large amount of food to us.

Since our last newsletter all of our volunteers have undertaken an individual “Covid Age” Risk Assessment which has led to a number of volunteers who were shielding being able to return to the Foodbank as their self assessment has taken them out of the higher risk category. Thank you to all volunteers for completing their risk assessment and welcome back to those who have been able to return. It’s good to have you back. To those who are unable to return you are still very much part of Helensburgh & Lomond Foodbank we appreciate your ongoing support and hope that you will be able to return before too long. Thanks also to those volunteers who have been able to work throughout Covid either at the Foodbank and Food Store or in the background managing administrative tasks. Well done !

The Foodbank is very pleased that the Red Cross Hall is soon to become the Helensburgh Community Hall a resource for use by the local community. We are grateful to the Scottish Government Land Fund who has provided a 95% Grant towards purchase of the property and that the Foodbank together with the Book Sale and Red Cross Mobility Aids are recognised as anchor organisations will continue to be able to use the Hall for the benefit of the local community. This removes any uncertainty regarding the possible loss of use of the Hall for the Foodbank and other local services. Thank you to all who have supported our efforts to help to achieve this outcome.

Best wishes,

Mary McGinley,

Chairman, Helensburgh & Lomond Foodbank

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