A FOOD bank that came close to folding due to donations running out has been given a lifeline.

Volunteers are being allowed to pack up food parcels at Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank’s city centre base and representatives of approved agencies are collecting them to distribute to families in poverty and others in need.

Committee member Graham Walker said a co-ordinated effort between Bradford Council and Bradford Food Poverty Network was having a positive effect on the running of the food bank. “We’re managing to stay open, we are very stringent about who we give bags to, and how many bags, and we have rigorous policies in place for the safety of our volunteers,” he said.

“Those coming to pick up food bags are from recognised agencies such as social services and instead of them coming into the packing area, the parcels are left out for them. We have significantly reduced the number of volunteers at packing sessions and we’re stringent about social distancing.

“The volunteers have been brilliant, they’ve been shopping and have got what supplies they can. The co-ordination between the council and food network has been very supportive - we had a delivery this morning.”

The food bank is currently being run by Becky Hutchinson from Youthtrain, a learning programme for young people. “She is keeping it going, she co-ordinates the volunteers and the food coming in,” said Mr Walker. “Most of the committee members are of senior age or have children to look after, so we welcome younger volunteers who have more time on their hands right now.”

Last week committee member Frances Atkins was in tears as she told the T&A that panic-buying was having a devastating impact on food donations. She said the charity’s shelves had never been so empty.

Lashman Singh, who founded the food bank 15 years ago, said: “We can only give out what we have got. People who are used to taking 10 bags from us are now getting five or six. We don’t have the donations we were getting before, initially because of panic-buying and now because people can only buy basic food supplies, but we’re in a better position now than we were. This time last week I didn’t think we’d last until the end of the week.”

The food bank relies on donations of non-perishable goods, such as pasta and tinned meat, and toiletries. “People need us now more than ever,” said Mr Singh. “We serve people on low incomes. With schools closed, children are missing out on school dinners and breakfast clubs. Anyone who can help, go to bradfordfoodbank.com.”

* The STC Foundation in Bradford, which promotes Asian culture and arts, has set up a foodbank to support people in need who are in isolation. Chairman Mohammad Adnan said: “We’re supporting the elderly, vulnerable, families and others who are struggling as a result of the pandemic. We have registered with Bradford Council and once we get the go ahead we will deliver food to those in need. Anyone wishing to donate food can leave it out for us to pick up.

“We have also extended our services to provide food supplies to NHS staff as a gesture of thanks for their amazing ongoing efforts. If any of them can’t make it to stores after working long shifts, we can deliver food to them.”

For more information call 0753 8515739 or email info@stcfoundation.co.uk