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Move to set up Bethnal Green food bank at St Matthew’s Church in time for Christmas

PUBLISHED: 17:19 29 October 2019

Pupils at Swanlea School collecting food donations in 2016 to distribute to poor families at Christmas. Picture: Zara Islam

Pupils at Swanlea School collecting food donations in 2016 to distribute to poor families at Christmas. Picture: Zara Islam

Zara Islam

A new food bank to help families on the breadline in the run-up to Christmas is being set up by church volunteers in Bethnal Green.

Parish Dean Erin Clark is appealing for volunteers to help set up a monthly food bank in Bethnal Green at St Matthew's Church. Picture: Mike BrookeParish Dean Erin Clark is appealing for volunteers to help set up a monthly food bank in Bethnal Green at St Matthew's Church. Picture: Mike Brooke

A planning meeting is set for tomorrow evening at St Matthew's parish church, off Bethnal Green Road, for volunteers from charities and the community as well as church groups.

It is being set up by the new Dean, The Rev Erin Clark, in one of east London's most deprived parishes.

The idea is to operate as a branch of the foodbank already up-and-running at St Mary's Church in the Bow Road which has recently seen a 30 per cent rise in families needing emergency groceries.

"The Bow project has so far been able to meet the needs of East End families," one of its organisers told the East London Advertiser.

Mayor John Biggs volunteering at Christmas 2016 to help out at Tower Hamlets foodbank run by First Love Foundation. Picture: Kois MiahMayor John Biggs volunteering at Christmas 2016 to help out at Tower Hamlets foodbank run by First Love Foundation. Picture: Kois Miah

"But it now seems like the right choice at this time of year to branch out and serve more people in need."

The idea is to run a twice-monthly foodbank at St Matthew's on a Friday morning or early afternoon, depending on when volunteers are available.

The project needs to expand its volunteer team including people who can welcome families as well as help behind the scenes outside serving hours ordering food and delivering and storing produce.

Much of the food is being donated by Foodcycle, which has agreement with supermarkets to redistribute their surplus stocks.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has volunteered himself to help distribute food and has met supermarket chiefs cap in hand for food donations.

Sixform pupils at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary set up a Christmas food appeal in 2016 to be distributed to families in need. The youngsters were eager to point out that "not every family can enjoy the festive season" because of poverty.

The foodbanks set up by Anglican and Methodist church groups are being run in addition to those organised by the Trussel Trust which gets donations from the big supermarket chains. The large Tesco's at Bromley-by-Bow began donating surplus food stocks four years ago to the charities.

Free vegetarian meals are being offered at Bow Road Methodist Church every Friday at 7pm, when up to 30 people usually turn up.

Volunteers interested in helping the new Bethnal Green foodbank are being invited to tomorrow's planning meeting at the church in St Matthew's Row at 7.30pm.


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