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.
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.’