Working for the needy: Lewes Food Bank

food bank (3)

A typical Monday scene as a delivery arrives at the Lewes Food Bank and Pearl and her staff sort items out ready for distribution

Located on the De Montfort estate, the Lewes Food Bank was the first such facility in town. New LTP Board member Pearl Zia set up this independent initiative when she recognised the need to supply basic groceries free of charge to those unable to afford them. They often get emergency calls from social services or youth offending team – for people in dire need of food. The Food Bank gives out food to around 40 people each week.

Each Monday a lorry arrives bringing deliveries of surplus food; the payment for this is covered by grants. These supplies are supplemented by donations from the public. There are dedicated collection boxes at Waitrose and Tesco in Lewes.

Collection day is on Monday, when a team of volunteers help out sorting the items into bag for the recipients, who collect in the afternoon. Currently they use the De Montfort Community Room for the purpose. It’s not just food: a bag typically contains soup, beans, pasta, tinned fruit, tea and cereal, fresh and frozen food, plus some toiletries, but they never quite know what’s turning up on the lorry from one week to the next. At Christmas they gave out 47 hamper boxes, with enough food to feed a family of six over Christmas day and more.

Pearl says they always welcome donations, particularly of items like tinned meat pies,  meatballs, shower gel and washing up liquid.

food bank (2)There is a special food collection day on Saturday 28 February, where the organisers will have a table at the entrance and shoppers can find out what kind of items they can donate.

Pearl, who also works for the East Sussex Credit Union and the De Montfort Improvement Group, joined the Lewes Town Partnership because ‘I work with so many partnerships already in town. That’s what I like about Lewes: it’s a real community.’

Lewes for a Living Wage

A recent new member to the Lewes Town Partnership, Lewes for a Living Wage is a small group who want Lewes to be a Living Wage Town, so that many more businesses will sign up. Organiser Ann Link says “This would have great benefits in reducing poverty and helping the local economy, and it has also been shown to help employers, who have found staff stay longer and have less time off sick. If people had a little more money to spend, it would benefit the local economy generally. We are approaching employers and hope soon to have a website to list those locally who pay the Living Wage, currently £7.85 per hour.”

For more information about the Living Wage, visit http://livingwagebrighton.co.uk/employers and http://www.livingwage.org.uk