Why East Ren food bank needs your help this Christmas

East Ren food bank volunteers pictured at Morrison's in Giffnock shortly after the launch of the group.  Three years later there's been no let-up in the demand for the service they provide.
East Ren food bank volunteers pictured at Morrison's in Giffnock shortly after the launch of the group. Three years later there's been no let-up in the demand for the service they provide.

It’s based in Barrhead, and has an outreach depot in Thornliebank, but East Renfrewshire Food Bank covers literally the whole area.

Warehouse manager Stan Esson is quick to point out that the need for food bank supplies doesn’t stop at the boundary with notionally wealthy Eastwood.

“Of course we have people who need food in places like Giffnock,” he says, “and while of course we help a lot of people in Barrhead we are here for everyone.”

What complicates his job is that it’s literally impossible to tell just how many people will walk through the door, some in chronic need, on any given day.

“Sometimes we are steady, and sometimes we are really busy,” he says, “but certainly there’s been no overall fall-off in demand since we started up three years ago.”

He knows that the whole venture depends on the generosity of the public, and he’s hoping people who are able to afford the gesture will consider dropping off a contribution in the days leading up to Christmas.

Some food banks have branched out to include clothes or toys in their operations, but at the Barrhead resource the emphasis is solely on food – the one thing he says nobody can (or should have to) do without.

Food bank parcels typically include essential items including cereal, soup, pasta, rice, pasta sauce, beans, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tea and coffee, tinned fruit and biscuits.

Food bank specialists have worked with nutritionists to develop a “menu” of items that contains sufficient nutrition for adults and children, for at least three days of healthy, balanced meals for individuals and families.

At a time when many are splashing out on expensive and exotic fare it’s possibly a surprise to find some people are stuck for the price of a bowl of soup or a packet of biscuits – but it’s the reality of life at the sharp end in countless towns across the country.

Some point to benefit changes or sudden redundancy as the reason so many people literally cannot afford to eat.

At this time of year some are regularly having to make tough choice s between food and that other essential, heat.

East Renfrewshire Food Bank is based in the United Reformed Church on Arthurlie Street, Barrhead, and is run under the auspices of the Trussell Trust – probably the best known of the many organisations now involved in bringing the basics of life to people who would otherwise go hungry.

It benefits from generous local people in many ways, with primary age children, for example, often well aware of the issues involved and eager to help make a difference.

Drop-off times are from 11.30am to 1.30pm on a Tuesday, and 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Fridays – but if Thornliebank is more convenient you can leave items at the outreach base there too.

To find out ways to donate, or for more information, call 0141 881 8250.