We opened our food bank in March 2013 in response to the obvious needs which arose during the recession.
In our research we found that many familes were stuggling to buy enough food for a variety of reasons.
Changes to benefit payments and sanctions.
Reduced working hours resulting in very little money for food and essentials
Repayment of debts which arose during the recession.
Loss of savings.
We found that residents across the whole spectrum of local society were in need of assistance.
Those who are unable to work through long-term illness or disability
People in work on reduced hours
Couples working, whose combined income did not enable adequate money for food over the month.
It was obvious from the above that virtually any local resident could qualify for occasional assistance with food at extreme times of hardship.
We introuced Donations Into Parcels and asked for local churches, groups and organisations to place our boxes in their premises. The idea was that people might donate products to the food bank.
We also contacted local supermarkets and asked if they could assist us.
The East of England Co-Op agreed to place a basket in their Solar store in Felixstowe town centre. Thanks to the initiative of their Manager, Mr.Darren Wash, we have received a tremendous amount of food and other products via this avenue.
We also found that many schools and churches donated their Harvest Festival items to us and members of onlines groups, such as the Felixstowe - The Residents Page on Facebook, contributed with seasonal items at Christmas.
At Christmas we have a growing number of 'Goodie Sacks' which we fill for the members of local supported housing organisations and those local residents who are identified by Social Services and Citizen's Advice as being alone and/or vulnerable over the seasonal period. The number of donations for these groups have risen steadily since the food bank started.
We know that asking for food is one of the hardest things to do.
It may be that you are struggling with debts and have other financial concerns. If a few days worth of food will ease the pressure on you please get in contact with us.
Even if you are working (or a working couple) and have real problems in covering the cost of the last week's shopping before pay day - please get in touch.
You may think that you 'do not qualify' for free food. If you are a Felixstowe, Walton or Trimley resident and need food you almost certainly do qualify. Whatever your circumstance we can usually help in some way.
If we do arrange a food contribution for you - it usually means that you contact us and we arrange a time for collection. We have two shops, one in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe and the other on Walton High Street (opposite the Half Moon pub). Both shops have supplies of food.
When you come to collect your food you will probably be given a couple of carrier bags which will contain non-perishable goods such as tinned foods, pasta, cereal etc.
There will be enough food to last a few days.
We won't ask you difficult or invasive questions or demand any kind of proof of hardship from you. We will simply pass on the food.
We would expect any further parcels would not be requested within one month from the last and we would usually limit the amount of donations, to one family or individual, to three donations per year.
Aren't you worried you'll get ripped off?
No we're not. We appreciate that some people may try to take advantage and it's been tried in the past but we have managed the situation.
What if people ask for food and don't really need it?
It's possibe that it could happen, but asking for food is a difficult thing for most people and if somebody was to request some assistance when not needing it - well that would be something for their conscience to deal with.
I know a friend in need - can I pick up for them?
We don't usually do this but if you get in touch and tell us more we may be able to help.
What about the homeless people in Felixstowe?
We've actually found that most 'homeless' people in our town are 'sofa-surfing' and have a temporary roof over thir heads by no actual official 'home'. A soup kitchen initiative was introduced a couple of years ago with very little uptake - so our observation is that those with 'no official home' in Felixstowe usually have access to cooking facilities and a food parcel donation is probably most effective. However - If you know of any homeless people please get in contact.
I'm from outside Felixstowe, Walton and Trimley - can you still help?
Sorry - no. The food bank is only available to local residents.
For enquires in Suffolk outside of Felixstowe please contact FIND in Ipswich or ask your local Citizen's Advice for details of your local food bank.