Liverpool coronavirus: Two of the city's biggest food banks have appealed for help - The Guide Liverpool

Liverpool coronavirus: Two of the city’s biggest food banks have appealed for help

16/03/2020

The head of Liverpool’s independent foodbank, Micah, has appealed for more help from the public as it faces shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and says: “We need you more than ever.”

Paul O’Brien, executive director, has revealed donations to the organisation – the largest independent foodbank in the north west – have fallen since the outbreak, and adds that demands on its resources will only increase if, and when, schools are closed.

But he says: “Liverpool is known for looking after its mates, its own, and I can only ask that they do that now.

“We are appealing for help both in terms of donations and money, so we can provide the essentials for those vulnerable people who need them.

“If people can do whatever they can, it will be more than enough, I’m sure.”

Paul has revealed that the panic-buying and stockpiling has caused a drop in the amount of food people have given to Micah, a joint project set up between Liverpool Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral and St Bride’s Church.

It means it is having huge problems making up the 200 and 250 food parcels it hands out each week from pantries at St Vincent de Paul and St Bride’s Churches in the city.

He says: “It means we are not going to be able to give a full parcel and that people are going to go hungry, or not get the nutrition they need – and if that’s children or pregnant women for instance, that is vital.

“Being food insecure is horrendous and we aim to provide the basics necessary to get the nutrition needed to survive and stay healthy.  If people don’t get that it can lower their immune system, which puts them at more risk and puts more pressure on the NHS and government. It seems like a tiny thing, but it has huge implications.”

Tinned fish and breakfast cereal are items Micah is particularly short of, although an earlier appeal by someone encouraging people to ‘panic donate’ instead of panic buying has helped re-stock other items, along with appeals for them to ‘clear out the backs of their cupboards’ – as long as food is still in date.

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One of the other items really low is UHT milk which Micah normally buys 250 cartons of every week.

“We normally bulk buy and pay about £100 for that and get it from a supermarket but, because of restrictions imposed because of stockpiling, people are limited to about five. If we have to go to somewhere like Costco to buy it, it will cost more because we will have to buy a brand name instead of the no-frills packs.

“People are not buying according to their needs, they are buying for a problem which might not come their way. So we would urge people to buy what they need, not what they can afford to help the situation generally.

“We are at the raw end, trying to help people who are most vulnerable.”

He says: “I appreciate that people want to look after themselves, but don’t forget people who are unable to. Shop according to your needs and, if you buy a tin of beans, think about taking one home and giving one to someone like us.

“We are only going to see demands increase if schools close because of children who normally get school meals. More people will need more access to foodbanks and so we’d like to appeal for as much support as we can.”

Paul has asked people to donate money for milk and fresh vegetables to Micah’s just giving page here – or drop food to one of five centres: Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, St Bride’s Church, St Vincent de Paul Church and St Nicholas’s Parish Church.

Meanwhile, the Big Help Project (Knowsley Foodbank) is also asking for help to continue to work with those people in need.

Fundraiser Michele Duckworth says: “We have contingency plans in place and are currently working very closely with Knowsley Council to ensure that food is available for those in need and, if or when Knowsley schools close, we are able to provide food for those children who qualify for free school meals.  This will have a massive impact on our foodbank.

“We are writing to all our corporate supporters asking whether they would help us even further in these uncertain times by asking staff for food donations, make a monetary donation (so that we can purchase food) or volunteer at any of our distribution centres as and when the time is needed.

“We know that this is a big ask but any support and help that can be provided will assist us in continuing to feed the people of Knowsley.”

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