The foodbank in Valletta, which fed more than 80 families in the week before Christmas, is looking for distribution centres outside of the capital to be more accessible to people in need.
Run by the St Andrews’ Scots Church, the bank provides food for a few weeks to those facing a crisis, including people who are suddenly made redundant and others who have their benefits halted when admitted to hospital.
When it first opened in 2015, the food bank distributed 240 packs of food. The numbers continued to increase to 2,150 packs between January and August of 2018 – more food than it had distributed throughout all of 2017.
The bulk of the food distributed last year was collected through the 2017 Reverse Advent Calendar campaign.
Although this Christmas’s edition of the campaign saw a drop in participating schools, it experienced an increase in donations from private companies who took up the challenge as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
They would then be able to pick up the food items outside Valletta
Three small grocery stores also collected items from their customers, while the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation received an encouraging response from Scout groups.
Among others, the Stella Maris College Scout Group held a bake sale and bought food items with the funds.
Others sponsors teamed up with companies – one benefactor donated 80 food packs – with the items being provided at cost price by Valyou Supermarkets, administrator Reverend Kim Hurst told the Times of Malta.
She thanked all those who made Christmas special for those in need – between 80 and 90 families were helped out in the week before Christmas, while 50 families received food on Thursday and yesterday alone.
Reverend Hurst noted that while for the past few weeks the foundation had focused on collecting food, it would now turn its attention to finding distribution centres outside of Valletta.
The foodbank is looking for people, organisations or even parishes, who can provide a room for a couple of hours, once a week, where the foundation would be able to distribute the packs. The foundation would transport the items to these locations in a van that has been gifted by the Alf Mizzi Foundation.
The ideal locations would be St Paul’s Bay, somewhere in the Three Cities and Paola area, and a town or village in the south of Malta.
The foodbank will remain centrally administered from the capital and beneficiaries will still have to go there first in order to ensure they have all documentation in order.
They would then be able to pick up the food items from distribution points outside Valletta.
The demand for food continues to grow but Reverend Hurst believes the items collected through the Reverse Advent Calendar initiative will last until the end of March. Meanwhile, the foodbank has enough rice and pasta to last through summer.
Apart from food donations, the foodbank also welcomes monetary donations, which allow the foundation to buy any missing food items.