THE manager of a food bank which provides parcels to those in need has spoken about how the charity has had to adapt during lockdown.

ReadiFood has been running in Reading for more than 25 years and, like many of us, has not felt the wrath of a global pandemic in its quarter-century lifetime.

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Alison Peyton, Food Bank Manager of ten years, has revealed how Covid-19 has affected the charity over the past five months including how she managed to run ReadiFood from her dining room while shielding for ten weeks.

The foodbank, led by Faith Christian Group, needed to make changes to the volunteering structure during lockdown.

Alison notes how it was wonderful to see regular volunteers recruit their partners or older children in their households to help to run the delivery service safely, and said the charity received more than 150 volunteer inquiries at the beginning of lockdown.

ReadiFood would normally take in volunteers from businesses based in Reading and these companies were keen to make financial contributions to the charity.

These donations to help keep the charity up and running went far, given that food parcel numbers in 2020 increased by at least 30 per cent every month since February compared to the numbers of the corresponding months in 2019.

In fact, March 2020 saw a 60 percent increase compared to the parcel numbers in March 2019 and the figures from this May also grew by a staggering 53 percent comparatively.

Alison said: “We were getting referrals from people who had no work and who were falling through the net of assistance that was available, so they were either not receiving furlough payments, or people who were cash-in-hand workers that had no proof of their jobs.”

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Some food parcel recipients over lockdown were also entitled to benefits but required urgent assistance from ReadiFood as they waited to receive the money or for schools to organise the distribution of school meal vouchers.

“One time or another these families had access to our services and if you’re already existing hand-to-mouth and only just managing, schools closing down or work disappearing is just that recipe for tipping people over”, explains Alison.

Despite the adversity that coronavirus has thrown everyone’s way, ReadiFood has managed to adapt and keep those on the poverty threshold from going hungry.

“We do have to track whether it’s likely for there to be a local lockdown or keep up with news on potential losses in some businesses’, says Alison, as she explains how ReadiFood will operate moving forward during such economic uncertainty.