His Grace Food Bank on Beulah Road has gone from opening one day a week to six, with people who have never used a food bank before turning up at 11am to queue for food.
Hundreds of local people have received help but more donations are needed and as Pastor Bola Thomas explains: “we are short of money as we are having to buy many supplies.”
An exhausted Pastor Bola spoke to the Chronicle about how one week they distributed food to 50 other organisations as other food banks were forced to close either because they were run by older people who are now vulnerable or had run out of resources.
His Grace were fortunate enough to have received a donation from fast food chain McDonald’s who gave away free food to charities after it had to close all its restaurants because of the coronavirus outbreak and delivered boxes and boxes of bacon to Thornton Heath food banks.
Meat is in short supply and so the bacon was much appreciated.
The food bank has provided food packages to individuals and families in need via pick up and volunteers have been making deliveries to elderly and other vulnerable individuals with at least 50 benefiting each day.
Volunteers are using their own cars to deliver resources as the food bank doesn’t have a delivery van. They also go out each morning to supermarkets to collect food.
When The Chronicle visited the food bank a couple from a baptist church in New Addington arrived by car to collect meat, bread and milk for food parcels to distribute in their locality. Pastor Bola, explains how no one gave them PPE and they had to buy masks and gloves for all their volunteers to ensure they are protected. She has stopped taking new volunteers in the food bank and is relying on a small team because she knows who they are in contact with so is able to ensure there is no contamination.
Pastor Bola knows many of the recipients by their first name and knows their back story. She says hello to one user telling him to ‘look after yourself’ and many stop to say a personal ‘thank you’.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking; a husband and wife aged 82 and 79 turned up having been unable to get help and they were sent home and told their food would be delivered to their door.
Welling up Pastor Bola added: “They shouldn’t be on the street. It is so sad to see those things, elderly people struggling people with mental illness.
I don’t want to cry.”
Contact Pastor Bola on: 07946 546507.