At the Kirking of the Council on Sunday 8th September, we heard from Lorna Dempster of Highland Foodbank. We will be collecting food for them at our Harvest Thanskgiving services on 20 September. We also collect food Sunday by Sunday.
Here’s what Lorna had to say:
For the past eight years Highland Foodbank has literally been, for many people here in Inverness, where their next meal has come from. We help in the region of 4000 people annually, across the Highlands, with a short term supply of emergency, non-perishable food to help them in a time of specific crisis.
Highland Foodbank is part of a network of Foodbanks, franchised by the Trussell Trust, but managed here in the Highlands by a Team within Christian charity, Blythswood Care. The years of operating Foodbank have confirmed to us that there is a genuine need within our communities, and that many people are struggling to put food on the table. In fact we’re hoping to open a second Foodbank Centre in Hilton to make it easier for people from that area to access the service.
Just this past week Mary and one of her two young children came to the Foodbank Centre, at the Madras Street Hall, because her fridge/freezer had stopped working, and as a result she lost most of the food from her freezer, and didn’t have money to replace it.
The previous week, Sharon left the Foodbank Centre, after her second visit to us, with a three day supply of food. Sharon has worked for 15 years and has never been unemployed. When her job recently came to an end, she applied for, and was promised another job. In the meantime Sharon used up all her savings just to live. When the promised job didn’t materialise, Sharon had to make a claim for benefits. When she presented at the Foodbank Centre for the second time she was still awaiting her first payment.
And there’s Clive, a middle aged single man who recently started work for the first time in a couple of years, but he won’t receive his first pay for another two weeks. His benefit stopped when he started work, so this has left him with no money for food. Clive, like many people coming to the Foodbank Centre left feeling relieved and grateful that he had food to cover the following few days.
Everyone coming to the Foodbank Centre is referred to us by one of our many partnering organisations – agencies who are working with clients and can vouch for the genuineness of the current situation the client is facing. The help we offer is not necessarily intended to see the person out of crisis, but to give a bit of a breathing space, while other solutions to the crisis are sought.
The only way we’re able to maintain this service is because of the incredible generosity of people in local communities and churches who donate the food we give out. We’re extremely grateful to the Common Good Fund for their financial support, enabling us to maintain and expand the work of Foodbank. Also, without our committed team of volunteers we wouldn’t be able to open the doors of the Foodbank Centre – they provide a listening ear to the hundreds of people who come through the doors of the Centre each year, and offer encouragement and empathy, enabling client’s to leave feeling reassured.
So, what motivates the Foodbank Team to be part of this mission? The gospel is about offering hope to people who feel hopeless. Francis of Assisi once said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.’ What we’re doing is sharing God’s incredible love in a practical way, in an atmosphere of peace.
James 2:15 and 16 says, suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? At Foodbank we’re simply fulfilling God’s command to feed the hungry!