Sid Valley Food Bank thanks the community, and says there are exciting times ahead

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

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

The organisers of Sid Valley Food Bank say they have some exciting plans for 2020 – but are not yet in a position to disclose them.

In the meantime, co-ordinator Andie Milne has expressed her gratitude to the people of Sidmouth for their continuing support, and their generosity in the run-up to Christmas.

Last year's reverse advent calendar appeal enabled the food bank to give out 65 hampers containing items such as Christmas napkins, cheese biscuits, cranberry sauce and nuts.

"All the little things that people who can afford it just take for granted," she said.

Cash donations also funded a trip to the cinema for every family receiving emergency food aid over Christmas.

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Ms Milne said she wanted to thank 'everybody who had made the cinema trips possible'.

She added that there has been a rise in demand for emergency food in the first weeks of January.

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"It's gone through the roof," she said.

"Two weeks ago we hit the maximum we've ever done, we fed 107 people."

The increase was partly caused by a problem with benefit payments over Christmas. People on low incomes who claim universal credit lost out if their employers gave them advance payments to cover the Christmas break.

The system treated these payments as a rise in monthly income and stopped the benefits, which were then reactivated once wage payments returned to normal.

Thanks to cash donations, the food bank, based at Sidmouth's Unitarian Chapel, gives out fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce including cheese, milk and eggs.

"We run very differently to any other food bank in the whole country," said Ms Milne.

"It's based on what I would want if I was struggling."

The food bank also provides toiletries and nappies, and has linked up with the energy and money saving charity LEAP to offer free advice sessions on the second Friday of every month. These are open to everyone, not just users of the food bank.

Looking ahead to 2020, Ms Milne hopes to announce some good news later in the year.

"The food bank has some exciting plans for 2020 and if they come to fruition we'll be asking the community to help us - please watch this space," she said.

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