Food bank focus

Medway Foodbank opened in 2011 and operates out of eight distribution centres, supporting the towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood. Lorraine Schulze has been the Project Manager at the food bank for four years, leading her team through the challenges created by the pandemic and the £20 cut to Universal Credit.

“It certainly has been a rollercoaster during the past few years. When Covid struck, we had to change the way we distributed parcels almost overnight.” Lorraine explains. With all of the distribution centres closing, they had to switch to a delivery model to ensure emergency food parcels reached people facing hardship. As the pandemic gripped tighter, the increase in need was felt across the community. “We were receiving calls from people who had never been out of work before, never applied for benefits and who had never used a food bank.”

Now, two years later, food banks are facing yet more unprecedented challenges as the cost of living crisis deepens. Lorraine is anxious about what the future holds for people who are already struggling to make ends meet:

We are facing the perfect storm – the cut to the Universal Credit has been further intensified by the increase in Income Tax, food prices rising weekly and now the colossal increase to energy and fuel costs. What the government is offering to help people simply isn’t enough.

As the nation grapples with the cost of living increase, Lorraine has seen food donations unable to meet the increased need. “We have had to buy food to make up the shortfall in essential items for our food parcels.” With the cost of grocery prices rising, she anticipates that this could continue to be a significant cost to the food bank.

Medway Foodbank does not just see its place in the community as simply a place for people to collect an emergency food parcel. Lorraine and her team seek to connect people with additional services that can offer tailored support, such as debt advice, family-focused services and budgeting courses, so that people won’t need to visit the food bank again.

Lorraine also recognises the irreplaceable role of volunteers in creating a welcoming environment for anyone who needs help. She was grateful to receive a grant from the Trussell Trust to help support her team with the introduction of a paid Volunteer Supporter in the food bank. “It’s so important the Trussell Trust has provided this money so we can acknowledge and support our volunteers. Without them we would not be able to continue.” Grants like these are only possible with the generous support of people like you, but they make such a lasting impact on the services food banks like Medway can provide.

Support your local food bank

The food banks in our network rely on the generosity of local people, so please donate if you can. If you’re not sure where what to buy or where your local food bank is, you can search for it below

Being part of the Trussell Trust food bank network means being part of a bigger team that’s working towards a better future for people in our communities. Medway, like all of the food banks in our network, provide compassionate support to everyone who needs their support, but it’s also thanks to our amazing supporters that the Trussell Trust is able to provide tools such as training, grants, area manager support and much more.

We look forward to the day we’re no longer needed.” says Lorraine. “But until that day, we’ll be here to support people for as long as we’re needed, both as Medway Foodbank, and as part of the Trussell Trust.