Want to know what happens at BCFB; ask a child?
This report is from year 5 & 6 students at a local primary school…………
On Tuesday 15th October we visited the Black Country Food bank distribution centre in Halesowen. Our School had donated all the food from our harvest collection to the food bank for the last two years and we wanted to know what happens to it.
We found out that on arrival at the foodbank the first thing that happens is that all the donated food is weighed. The food bank keeps accurate records by weighing everything to track how much food has been donated and how much food has been distributed to people in need.
We discovered that the foodbank started in 2006 and fed just 49 people that year.
Last Year 2012 the food bank fed 12,000 people.
What was shocking was to be told that between January and August 2013 the food bank had already fed 10,000 adults and 4,000 children. They were also very busy during the school holidays because families whose children would normally receive a free school meal suddenly had extra mouths to feed during the day because their children were at home.
The food bank provides three days of emergency food to those in most need. We found out that they give out three days’ worth of food for practical reasons. People who use the foodbank don’t usually have cars and have to walk or use public transport. The foodbank have worked out that three days of food is what people can carry.
We wanted to find out how do the foodbank know who to give food to? We learnt that they do this by a voucher scheme. The foodbank gives out vouchers to responsible organisations like the police, fire service, children centres and schools. These organisations are selected because they have people working in them who are trained to work out if a person really needs help from the foodbank. They do this by asking them questions but very often these organisations will know that person or family and their circumstances. We found out that our school also has a supply of these vouches and can give them out to families who find themselves without any food.
The foodbank always tries to give out a healthy balanced supply of foods so that it includes tins of vegetables and fruit along with tins of meat or fish and rice and sauces. They also include cereals as it is important to have a meal first thing in the morning.
Sometimes if the family has children they will add a treat if they have been donated any chocolate items or pop but that is only occasionally.
We also wanted to find out how many foodbank locations there were. The distribution centre that we visited supplies food to fifteen foodbank locations across the Black Country.
We also discovered that the foodbank doesn’t just give out food. They include toiletry items so that people can keep themselves clean like shampoo, shower products, toothpaste and the important toilet roll!
We also saw a clothing project which is called Lydia’s House. This project works in a similar way to the foodbank project where people are issued with vouchers to exchange for clothes. So if someone needed a suit to attend an interview and they hadn’t got one then this project would let them have one.
We also wanted to find out whether there were food items that the foodbank didn’t want. The foodbank told us that they are not able to take fresh food and all the food that is donated has to have its date checked and then sorted into date order on the shelves.
The foodbank will accept all donations but when we visited they did have lots and lots and lots of tins of baked beans and so they are encouraging people to donate other food items. We also found out that they regularly run out of things like fruit juice and UHT milk.