Food banks are urging people to keep donating what they can as the coronavirus pandemic forces their shopping habits to change.
Bath coordinator Grainne Moher said the city remains incredibly generous but the charity’s supply of essentials like toilet paper is drying up as they become harder to find.
In Keynsham there have been reports of individuals “helping themselves” from donation points – a move coordinator Alan Hale said was “almost stealing twice”.
The Somer Valley Food Bank has had to close two centres but like the others has had numerous people coming forward to volunteer.
Ms Moher said: “Bath Foodbank is working hard to continue serving those in crisis throughout the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the support of our local community.
“We are expecting to see a rise in the numbers of people who need to access the foodbank, and we are concerned that at the same time there may be a drop in donations of food, as people need to self-isolate and avoid supermarkets.
“We have always been overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and have no doubt that once again, people will pull together and help.
“It would be fantastic if people could make contact with those in their neighbourhood who need food and consider supporting them directly, so that they wouldn’t need to turn to the foodbank.
“And of course we are still so grateful for the donations we receive to keep the foodbank running.
“A list of all items needed will be regularly updated on our website https://bathfoodbank.org.uk.
“Financial donations are welcomed and may be an easier way for people to support us at this time. Donations can be made via our website on our VirginMoneyGiving page.”
Bath Foodbank currently needs coffee, sponge puddings, longlife milk and juice, instant mashed potato, tinned vegetables, and household items like toilet paper.
Mr Hale said: “We’re slightly under pressure at the moment. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been giving out more than we’re receiving.
“We’ve had a few issues with people apparently taking from the drop box at the Tesco in Keynsham. We don’t know what was taken.
“It’s a great shame. A lot of people were quite upset by it. The terrible thing is it’s almost stealing twice – someone has taken the trouble to buy it and give it to us.
“The drop box is going to be repositioned so it’s back inside the store.
“We’re also under pressure because our warehouse is in Broadlands Academy and it may have to close soon.”
Schools across the country have now been ordered to close from Friday 20th March.
Mr Hale added: “We’re trying to relocate and will have to pay for accommodation. We’re trying to find somewhere in the town or very close. We need 6-700 square feet.”
Anyone who can help can contact Mr Hale on 01179 837 923 or email@example.com.
He said many of the food bank’s longstanding volunteers are over 70 and may have to start self-isolating, but there have been a lot of offers of help.
The food bank has been asked if it will start making deliveries to people who cannot leave their homes but Mr Hale said that was not sustainable.
It currently has plenty tins of baked beans and soup but needs more longlife milk and pasta sauces.
Somer Valley Foodbank
Coordinator Paul Woodward said: “We’ve lost quite a lot of volunteers but we’re keeping open.
“We’ve had to close the centres in Peasedown St John and Paulton this week. Paulton is going to close for the foreseeable future.
“The number of volunteers has gone down and we don’t want to overstretch ourselves.
“Half of the workforce is 70-plus.
“We should be able to stay open as long as our stocks stay high. We have a lot at the minute.
“Donations will go down. We will just have to wait and see.”
He said the food bank needs more longlife milk, tinned fish, tinned vegetables and tinned tomatoes.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter