Food Bank set to open in Monmouth

First published in News

A FOOD BANK is set to open in Monmouth, making it the third in the Monmouthshire.

The initiative, which gives food parcels to those who have no other means of getting food, will be join branches in Abergavenny and Chepstow.

Monmouth and District Foodbank volunteers will initially operate one day a week at Monmouth Baptist Church. It means that people in crisis would not have to travel to the foodbanks in Abergavenny or Chepstow.

The branch, which is led by the church and involves several community organisations, believes the foodbank will help some of Monmouth's poorest citizens at a time of crisis.

It works by exchanging food vouchers (given to clients by local agencies) for parcels containing dried and tinned foods, which are designed to last three days. It collects donations of food from churches, harvest festivals in schools and volunteers.

Tony Graham, Foodbank network manager for Wales at the Trussell Trust, which provides training and advice to more than 50 foodbanks across the UK, said: “We are aware that there is a need in Monmouth because there is an evident need in similar towns in Wales such as Abergavenny and Chepstow.

“The council’s social workers in these towns have indicated that there was some need in the Monmouth area.”

From April 1, 2013, to date, the Chepstow foodbank has distributed just over nine tonnes of food to 1,152 people, of whom 374 were children.

In Abergavenny, six-and-a-half tonnes were handed out to 890 people, of whom 203 were children. Mr Graham said that while these figures are below average, the branches are very busy.

“There are still pockets of the town and surrounding area that are clearly poorer areas. Even in the affluent areas people can find themselves in crisis through being made redundant or those living in rural communities on the minimum wage, it can be a combination of factors.

The Deacon of Monmouth Baptist Church has asked Monmouthshire council if it can temporarily put the timber shed at the back of the Church to act as a distribution point for the food bank before it is distributed.

It is hoped that if successful, more convenient premises will be found within three to five years.

Mr Graham added: “If planning permission is granted it will be full steam ahead.”

The application has yet to be considered by Monmouthshire council.

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