Chippenham Food Bank

Chippenham Foodbank has been given a grant to meet the increase in demand for their services.

Major Dawn McGarvey and community worker Miriam Dann have been working with a small army of volunteers to deliver food parcels all over Chippenham and beyond to vulnerable pensioners who are being shielded, families who have lost their jobs and people having to self-isolate.

“The demand has really increased; we have families who we help quite regularly but now we are having families who were self-isolating and then people who have lost their jobs or won’t be getting as many shifts. We also have people who are waiting for Universal Credit,” said Major McGarvey.

“At first we just had our regular families but then we were having families who were self-isolating and soon it was people who had lost their jobs or won’t be getting as many shifts. We also have people who are waiting for Universal Credit. It is incredibly busy.”

The group now regularly deliver food parcels to 24 families, 21 people on their own and three couples as well as cooking 72 hot meals for the Unity House homeless hostel in the town.

The parcels contain enough food for a whole week and while they are mostly tinned or non-perishable goods, the group is now starting to add fresh food, thanks to the grant. “We are delighted to get the grant, it means we can try to give everyone milk, eggs and cheese because people can’t get out and they need that sort thing. We are also providing pet food, nappies and baby milk as well,” said Major McGarvey.

“We have been working flat out and we lost a lot of our regular volunteers who are over 70 and have had to shield but we have had quite a few new ones and the Rotary Club have been very good and have been helping us. Some of the churches have also been helping us too so we have been really well supported.”

Just as demand increased, the amount of food the foodbank usually receives in donations began to fall. “Normally we hardly ever have to buy anything but all of a sudden, we are having to go out and buy food and this grant will really help us to keep going. We are still getting some donations from the collection point in Morrisons, but the donations we usually recieve from churches and schools have obviously stopped,” said Major McGarvey.

With the lockdown being extended the group is expecting demand to continue rising. Said Major McGarvey: “We’ve got the end of the month coming up and people won’t be getting paid as normal, or not as much, and that is going to have an impact.

“We know there are families who are used to asking for help and accepting things but there are going to be families who feel really bad about asking and they are the ones who are really going to need it.

“They will be the ones at home thinking ‘I haven’t got much food in the cupboard, but I don’t want to ask’ they are the ones I worry about. We don’t take anyone’s ID or ask why they want a parcel and I would just encourage them to get in touch.”

Grant awarded: