Unsuitable items a drain on resources at Sid Valley Food Bank
PUBLISHED: 18:26 08 September 2017
Sid Valley Food Bank bosses are grateful to their many supporters – but they have had countless donations recently that they just cannot accept.
It started in May with around a dozen opened jars of coffee that had only had a couple of teaspoons out, and the range of items has grown stranger, from single sweets to individual sanitary products.
Manager Lois Swarbrick said the charity’s insurance does not allow it to distribute out-of-date or opened food and it is a time-consuming task to get rid of it.
“We can’t be certain the items haven’t been tampered with,” she said. “It could be someone with the best of intentions – or it could be someone who doesn’t like food banks. We have no option but to throw it away.
“It came to a head over FolkWeek but I don’t think the festival had anything to do with it. We had to get rid of everything.
“We’ve always been given out of date stuff but not in the volume we’re getting at the moment.
“If someone was having a clear-out it would be a one-off, but this keeps happening.
“It’s a huge drain on resources to sort it. The new recycling scheme [and the less frequent black bin collections] means we can’t just bin it because the bin would fill up.
“We have to empty every packet and recycle them.”
The items have included vegan yeast flakes, flavourings, sachets of porridge and many others.
They have come from a variety of sources, from supermarkets like Tesco and Co-op to higher-end retailers like Marks and Spencer and Carluccio’s.
Some even seem to have the markings on that food banks use, but Lois is unsure if hers was the source.
She said the problem seems to be worse at the collection points in the town centre, although there is a network of people who empty them so it has not been possible to pinpoint where the unsuitable products are being left.
The volunteers are now being asked to keep an eye out so they can work out who is responsible.
Signs are being put on the collection points letting people know what cannot be accepted:
• Fresh food;
• Food that requires refrigeration;
• Food that has already been opened and re-sealed;
• Single packets from multi-packs (particularly porridge oats, milk and coffee).