Bedford and Brighton stations are taking part in a community pilot in association with the Trussell Trust to support their local foodbanks.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has partnered with Bedford Foodbank and The Black & Minority Ethnic Community Partnership (BMECP) Food Bank in Brighton to encourage members of the public and railway staff to make food donations at new collection points at Brighton and Bedford.
The Railway Food Collection launched as a pilot scheme for the industry yesterday (21 July) and collections will take place every Tuesday at Bedford Station from 7am – 1pm for the next six weeks.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, food banks across the country have seen unprecedented need for support and Bedford Foodbank has reported demand locally has increased by over a third.
At the height of UK lockdown restrictions in April 2020, the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks saw an 89% increase in need compared to the same period last year, with a staggering 107% increase in emergency food parcels for children.
Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said, “The launch of The Railway Food Collection pilot follows a period of great difficulty for people across the country.
“We’re really proud to be working with these local food banks to provide support for the most vulnerable in our communities when demand for their services is so high.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen great acts of charity, support and action; we hope that the food bank pilot can build on that and help the families that need it most.”
Mohammad Yasin MP helped launch the initiative. He said, “Food bank use has rocketed in Bedford since Coronavirus has affected the finance, job and food security of families and individuals.
“I’m delighted to support The Railway Food Collection initiative which will help our local foodbanks ensure children and families are fed during the difficult summer holiday period.”
Collection points inside the main entrance to the station will be staffed by volunteers.
Bedford Foodbank currently feeds over 650 people each month from the Bedford Borough area.
Andrea Badman, Assistant Project Manager, said, “Bedford Foodbank is extremely grateful to Govia Thameslink Railway for wanting to support the work we are doing by providing an opportunity to receive much needed donations to help local people in crisis.”