Food bank will spread festive cheer and hope

It has been an increasingly busy build up to the Christmas period for Sleaford’s food bank.

Rod Munro and volunteers from Utility Aid and Lincolnshire Coop wrapping gifts to be handed out to cheer up some of the people the Community Larder supports at Christmas. EMN-211220-173029001

Rod Munro, team leader at the New Life Community Larder said they have seen an ever-increasing spike in demand of up to 80 per cent since September, prompted by households struggling with the rising cost of living.

This has been particularly down to increasing energy bills as people come out of fixed rate deals. “Some people have been paying double what they were paying previously,” he said.

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This is coupled with the removal of the Universal Credit uplift given out during the pandemic lockdowns.

Rod Munro with the community food table, outside the New Life Centre in Sleaford, for those feeling unable to officially come in and ask for help. EMN-211220-111609001

“We are seeing working families coming to us asking for help and support with utilities and general food parcels – it is really hard.”

They work with referrals from schools and local councils. He had ten families referred to him in one day last week and said that support agencies are finding it hard to support these families as money is running out due to difficulties in fundraising, creating more stress for everyone involved.

“It is hitting more people and as they approach Christmas they don’t have that disposable income beyond paying for bills and fuel. Parents are paying for school uniform and then struggling to buy food. It is very concerning.”

At the moment the food bank is keeping up with demand and drawing upon funds from the renting out of the conference centre, as well as Lincolnshire Co-op’s advent calendar campaign and the new NK Lottery.

New Life Community Lrader Team Leader Rod Munro accepts a ?500 donation from Cath Hamblin, president of the Rotary Club of Sleaford. EMN-211220-165134001

“We saw harvest festival donations decrease this year because people cannot afford to donate as much,” Rod said.

But they are still pressing on with a number of seasonal initiatives to lift people’s spirits who may be old, isolating or living alone and in need of support.

On Saturday, December 18, they cooked up 283 Christmas meals for people who are older, isolated or lonely, with 48 volunteer drivers going out to deliver them. Normally they would be invited in for a big meal at the centre but this avoids the spread of covid. Each person will get a gift and quiz book too.

More volunteers, including staff from Lincolnshire Co-op and Utility Aid have been busy making up 60 hamper boxes ready to fill them with produce including turkeys and seasonal vegetables this week then delivered on Christmas Eve to nominated households.

Monty Cordingley, Aftersales Manager (left), and Hannah Ross, Spares Manager (right), from Grunwald UK, delivering donated groceries to Rod Munro, NLCL Team Leader (middle), at the New Life Community Larder in Sleaford. EMN-211220-164900001

Rod said: “It is quite a mammoth task and takes up a lot of space, with up to 30 volunteers going around Sleaford and surrounding villages.”

Over the last few months the food bank has also created a community table, stood outside stocked with food items donated by local shops and supermarkets that would have otherwise gone to waste, with the assistance of Fair Share. There will be even more donated on Christmas Eve. Rod said it is handy if anyone feels uncomfortable about seeking help officially: “You need a referral for the food bank, but the table is for the whole community to help reduce food waste and get some wholesome food.”

“Now is the time for the community to stand up and serve the rest of the community in need. We try to do our bit, but it’s worth it,” said Rod, who revealed they have more exciting plans for the New Year.

There have been a number of groups and businesses donating to help Sleaford New Life Community Larder this Christmas.

Rod Munro at the New Life Comunity Larder with some of the gifts wrapped that will be given out to individuals and families in need this Christmas. EMN-211220-111558001

Grunwald UK and its staff have donated groceries and £700 to aid the food bank’s work at Christmas.

The locally-based packaging equipment company have supported the charity since 2018. Company director Samantha Smith said: “The community larder does a fantastic job supporting local people when they most need help, and we hope that our contribution goes some way to making Christmas better for the people they work with.”

Rod Munro from the larder commented: “Grunwald UK once again have stepped forward to help our community work to support people in Sleaford and surrounding villages. We would really encourage other businesses to come forward and support the essential work of the local community larder.”

Cath Hamblin, president of the Rotary Club of Sleaford, also presented £500 to help fund the Christmas hampers going out to the community from the larder and add some festive cheer. The club has previously donated £2,000 to help the larder during the Covid crisis.

Sleaford Snails walking football club, based at Better Gym on East Road, have also made a donation of £126.95 (pictured left) to the food bank.

If you want to help by donating cash, food, or a Christmas item to the larder, you can drop off items at the New Life Centre, Mareham Lane, Sleaford, Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.

Gary dark, the walking footballers' Players' Player of the Year, presents the cheque to fellow Snail Tim Blakey, who has been liaising with the food bank. EMN-211220-165810001

l For more information visit www.nlcm.org.uk/community-larder or call 01529 413063

Some of the unsold/close to date produce donated by supermarkets for the community food table. EMN-211220-111630001
The community is still generous - all these bags of provisions were provided in a day. EMN-211220-111619001