There With You: Army of volunteers helps Sidmouth food bank with ‘colossal’ task as coronavirus lockdown continues

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 April 2020

Andie Milne, coordinator of the Sid Valley Foodbank. Picture: Philippa Davies

Andie Milne, coordinator of the Sid Valley Foodbank. Picture: Philippa Davies

Philippa Davies

Sid Valley food bank has been overwhelmed with offers of volunteer help as it took on the ‘colossal’ task of preparing for the extra demand during the coronavirus lockdown.

Co-ordinator Andie Milne and her team have now completed their preparations to make sure the service is sustainable over the coming weeks, and possibly months, as the crisis continues.

Volunteers will be working at the food bank’s premises at the Unitarian Chapel for four sessions a week, as well as collecting food donations left at local supermarkets, and delivering supplies on Tuesdays and Fridays.

From Tuesday, (April 7) they will be giving weekly support to 60 school age children, in addition to the 43 families who receive food supplies, including fresh produce, every Friday.

Ms Milne said: “It’s been a colossal task, and we’re all volunteers, including me, which I don’t think people know.”

She is appealing for donations of rice and noodles, tinned meat, fish, tomatoes and other vegetables, jars of sauce, coffee, fruit juice, jam and custard.

She has thanked the many people who have already contributed.

“I would like to say a huge thank you for all the wonderful financial donations we have received from those unable to donate food items due to self-isolating,” she said.

“We are in negotiations with various suppliers in trying to get the stock levels we need to provide for our clients and put the donations to good use, while still continuing to provide fresh produce every Friday and also the extra Tuesday support.”

The food bank was facing a shortage of volunteers a few weeks ago, as many of its older helpers were classed as vulnerable to the coronavirus and went into self-isolation.

But many younger volunteers came forward to help.

Ms Milne said: “We would like to thank everyone who contacted us - the response was overwhelming, and we now have a reserve list.”

The food bank will not be processing any more applications for volunteering but is signposting applicants to other organisations that may need them, such as Sid Valley HELP.

Ms Milne has expressed ‘huge thanks’ to her team members Ray and Chris Chapman, Tom and Jo De Remer and Viv Crick, as well as everyone who has donated or offered volunteer services.

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