Govia Thameslink Railway has partnered with Bedford Foodbank and The Black & Minority Ethnic Community Partnership (BMECP) Food Bank in Brighton to launch a community pilot, encouraging members of the public and railway staff to make food donations at new collection points at Brighton and Bedford.
Following the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, food banks across the country have seen unprecedented need for support.
With the railway serving an important role in supporting and connecting local communities, the pilot - The Railway Food Collection - will initially support Bedford Foodbank and BMECP Food Bank in Brighton & Hove to increase the number of families in crisis that they can support, in partnership with UK charity The Trussell Trust.
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."
The Railway Food Collection is launching as a pilot scheme for the industry, kicking off at GTR's Bedford and Brighton stations, as well as Glasgow Central.
The pilot will commence on Tuesday 21 July, with collections staffed by volunteers to run each Tuesday between 07:00 and 13:00 for the following six weeks at Brighton and Bedford stations inside the main station entrance at both stations.
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."
The BMECP Food Bank provides emergency food parcels for people in crisis who live in Brighton and Hove. Juliet Ssekitoleko, Project, Marketing & Fundraising Manager for BMECP, said, "The number of referrals is getting bigger week by week; therefore we would like to appeal to the public for more donations."