Food bank Team Challenges: Why food banks still need support
Written by Amadiora Emechete, Challenge Project Manager, ELBA
ELBA is launching two new opportunities to tackle hunger in east London. For those who prefer to volunteer online, we are launching a new Online Food bank Challenge; an interactive team challenge in which you and your team will learn about local food banks and will do an online supermarket sweep with a competitive element. For those who are keen to volunteer in-person, we are looking to engage teams in taking stock and providing support with other tasks in local food banks.
The new food bank opportunities are a great way to tackle the issue of food poverty which has drastically increased during the pandemic. Food poverty is the inability to afford or have access to food to make up a healthy diet. Due to the pandemic food bank use in London went up by a shocking 106%, to more than 420,000 food parcels distributed during the pandemic.
Hunger is caused by a great variety of reasons, with the three main factors being dependence on benefits which are too low, have gaps or are inaccessible, difficult life experiences like job loss or eviction and a lack of informal or formal support. With unhealthy food being 3 times cheaper than healthy food, people who suffer from food poverty are often subject to health issues like obesity.
Through our new opportunities we will not only support adults in need but also children. 21.1% of children in London were eligible for free school meals during the pandemic. The income threshold to receive free school meals is £7,400 so there are many other children in poverty that are not eligible for free school meals, impacting their ability to concentrate and perform in school. Difficult periods for families with hungry children are school breaks when free school meal support is reduced. An estimated 3 million children in the UK are at risk of going hungry during the school holidays. With the government only providing free meals for 16 of a total of 30 weekdays during the six-week summer break, food banks and other food services see dramatically increased usage during the summer months.
The need for more support to meet the increasing demand for food banks and food services is therefore crucial. During the pandemic ELBA has run the Virtual Food Drive which we will continue running for those who would like to provide support but are not able to volunteer. If you are interested to hear more about the Online Food bank Challenge and in-person volunteering in local food banks, please contact Amadiora Emechete at firstname.lastname@example.org.