A three-day Christmas collection at Tesco stores across Sheffield netted 3.6 tonnes of food for Burngreave Foodbank.
At Tesco’s Spital Hill and Ecclesall Road branches, foodbank volunteers set up collection stalls and asked shoppers to donate to help feed those in crisis this Christmas.
The volunteers handed out Christmas Appeal leaflets with a shopping list of the foodbank’s top ten items, such as UHT milk, tinned tomatoes and tinned rice pudding.
Foodbank donations are usually made at unmanned drop-off points at supermarkets and other stores, but stalls staffed by volunteers help to bring a surge in donations.
“We collect about 50 kilos of food per week from the drop-off point at Spital Hill,” said Rachel Snow, manager of Burngreave Foodbank.
“But over the three days this week we collected two and half tonnes of food – which is a massive difference.”
Mrs Snow said having a “physical presence” in the store helps to put a human face on the foodbank and those who need it.
“It gives people some perspective. It reminds them about the foodbank and others who aren’t so fortunate,” she said.
Burngreave Foodbank runs Tesco collection stalls three times a year: one at Easter, one in summer and one at Christmas.
Tesco also “tops-up” the donations by giving 20% of their total value per kilo to Trussell Trust, a charity that operates a network of over 400 foodbanks across the UK, including Burngreave Foodbank.
“The partnership with Tesco is a massive, massive help – without them we’d really struggle to have enough food to give to everyone who uses the foodbank,” said Mrs Snow.
Trussell Trust works closely with social services to ensure that people who are out of work, incapacitated or on a low income have enough food to feed themselves and their family.
Users of Trussell Trust foodbanks need to be referred by social services first, which helps ensure their crisis claim is valid and helps broaden their local support network.
One foodbank user, who asked not to be named, said he was referred to Burngreave Foodbank by Citizens Advice Bureau after losing his job as a healthcare assistant.
“I might be needing the foodbank until Christmas,” he said. “Who knows?”
James Dixon, a first-timer at Burngreave Foodbank, recently came out of prison and is still on probation.
Mr Dixon cannot return to work due to mental health problems, and was referred to Burngreave Foodbank by the probation service after having trouble claiming Incapacity Benefit.
“Last time I used a foodbank was three weeks ago down in Hillsborough, where they gave me a suitcase full of food because of how many kids are at home,” said Mr Dixon.
Mr Dixon lives with his partner, his two brothers, their partners and four children.
“It’s a big house but family stick together don’t they – that’s how it’s got to be,” he said.
“If it weren’t for churches and foodbanks and places like that, the world wouldn’t be as it is today.”