At the beginning of this crisis, food insecurity was widespread, as supermarket shelves were stripped bare ahead of the uncertainty of weeks or months being spent in our homes.
Now things are changing. The shelves are being restocked as we edge back to normality. But for a huge number of people, food insecurity remains a daily reality.
If rumours that the government’s food programme for people who are shielded from covid-19 is due to stop later this month turn out to be true, many of our most vulnerable will face real difficulties.
Those struggling are often less visible.
They are the families in hostels, like those along London Road, there are those with no recourse to public funds, those rejected for furlough (including self-employed workers who don’t have three years of tax returns), there are those in the informal economy who often lack citizenship status, those still waiting for their benefits to come through, those without the language or connections to apply for state aid, and there are the self-isolating, elderly or less tech-savvy people who are unable to navigate internet deliveries.
Our foodbanks need donations to help people facing these challenges every day.
We don’t just have to stand by and watch.
Croydon covid-19 mutual aid is giving residents another way to help their neighbours. Inspired by an idea and the work of Fatima at the Croydon Community Foodbank, we’re offering free brightly coloured bins so that streets and neighbourhoods can pull together donations for their local foodbanks.
All you need to do is reach out to your local foodbank, check they need support, offer your home or drive as a donation point and reach out to your neighbours and local mutual aid network (all across the borough, listed and with contact details by clicking this link) to ask them to fill up the bin each week.
We are asking for just #onetin each to make the difference.
I’ve seen this work in my own area on Bramley Hill. Neighbours I know and those I’ve never met come quietly, wearing gloves, smile and lift up the lid of the bright yellow bin. Maybe the experience of facing food insecurity at the start of the crisis increased our empathy, or maybe it’s just easy to drop something off locally now the shops are restocked. But it works and people are generous. Most foodbanks are grateful for all donations, as previous sites for donation bins, such as churches, are still closed and unable to function.
The families who receive the food are even more appreciative. One single mum, out of work and self-isolating with a sick relative, said she was in tears when we delivered parcels over Easter that meant her kids finally got a bit of chocolate in the holidays.
Some will say that food donations such as these are simply “sticking plasters”.
They are right. Food donations do not solve the deep underlying causes of poverty, inequality and insecure employment, wages and rights that we must fix as a society.
But plasters are still needed while the real healing takes time. While we fight, organise and campaign for that deeper change, we can also make sure that people are fed right now. This collective organisation also keeps us alive to those injustices, and reminds us not to forget or leave behind those who live beside us.
It might be small, but we can make a difference, one tin at a time.
- If you want to help and offer to host a food donations bin, contact Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid by emailing email@example.com