I recently volunteered to help at the foodbank distribution centre at Holy Trinity Church in North Ormesby. Perceptions of foodbanks may vary in society e.g. ‘they didn’t have them in my day’, or ‘why do we need them’. Well, in an ideal society there would be no need for foodbanks but the reality is that we do, as more people are experiencing problems with benefits and many are socially excluded from family and society.
Before I volunteered, my thoughts around foodbanks were that they were places where people with a Red voucher could get emergency food. Of course this is true. However my experience has shown that there is more that goes on in a Foodbank. Firstly – the welcome and hospitality that we give to others is so important. A hot drink with biscuits can be sustaining, especially when a person has walked from the other end of Middlesbrough or has not eaten for some time. Secondly – listening and being present to those who come into the Foodbank. Listening to others is a precious gift that we can give of ourselves for another. Especially listening without judgement, for it affirms that the other person is important to God whatever their problem. It can be a daunting experience for some people as they may feel a sense of shame in asking for help. We try to reassure them that we are here to assist and sometimes there is a need to signpost people so that they can seek further help with their problems. Thirdly – prayer is most important. Before each session we pray as a team because we are all servants of Christ, each with our own individual gifts in giving love and compassion to those in need. Matthew 25:36-40 reminds us that we meet Jesus in the lives of all those who are needy and particularly people who are marginalised. He reminds us that ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’
All the foodbanks depend on generous giving of donations. as there is a great demand for food each week, as well as its volunteers who give their time and gifts in making a difference to our society.