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Cornwall’s Bishop has written to the heads of nine supermarkets asking them to donate spare food to recession-hit Cornish families.

Rt Revd Tim Thornton put pen to paper as demand for ‘Food Bank’ emergency relief reached record levels across the Duchy.

Last month (August), organiser Don Gardner confessed to the BBC: “Demand has exceeded supply. It’s horrendous at the moment”.

Foodbank was set up in Truro a couple of years ago and has since spread to Penzance, Hayle, Camborne and Redruth.

It’s a church initiative, sprung from a global charity .

In the UK, food bank specialises in helping people out during the three weeks you have to wait between signing on and getting your first Giro.

In Camborne alone, workers say they’re currently supporting thirty local families in need.

Rt Revd Thornton, who prefers to be known as ‘Bishop Tim’, wrote to the supermarkets about the crisis in mid August.

He’d spoken to local politician Cllr Armand Toms, who’s backing the drive from the council side.

Cllr Toms said: “We think that the big supermarkets could play a key role in helping to support people in need in their local areas.

“So we are asking them to help us in these difficult times”

On August 16th chief executives of Waitrose, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco and Marks & Spencers were all sent Bishop Tim’s letter.

As yet he’s had no replies.

We’ve got the letter in full for you in small print down below.

But it more or less explains that Cornwall, though ‘not prosperous’, has a strong ‘community spirit’.

And the Bishop says Food Banks could work even better – with people donating food during a shop – if the corporate big guns backed the idea.

In a bolder move, Bishop Tim tells the businessmen they should let managers give food past it’s display date to a good cause – rather than chuck it.

Diocese spokesman David Watson explained: “We’re writing to the supermarket bosses asking to let their managers donate over-orders.

“That means goods they can no longer display, not food past its sell-by-date.

“We’re talking about the excess food that a big supermarket may end up throwing away.

“We’re asking, for example, HQ Tescos: ‘Can you give your permission so that when something is within two months of its destroy date: you give it to foodbank?

“Because Food Bank can turn it around so that it’s with a family within days.”

The spokesman went on: “The supermarkets stock many things apart from food which help people enormously in tough times.

“Essentials like, toiletries, soaps, toilet paper, all make a big difference.”

He added: “There certainly is a growing demand or foodbank’s services and and it’s reflection of the difficult times.”

“By working together – we hope together with the supermarkets – we aim to help as many of the residents in need as we can.”

Here’s the full text of Bishop Tim’s letter. There’s some links below it to Food Bank.

  • From: Rt Revd Tim Thornton
  • “Re: Foodbank Cornwall
  • As you will know Cornwall is a large county nearly 100 miles long and 50 miles wide (at its widest).
  • With a population of 535k of which currently 116k are over 65 and is made up of 18 main towns of which the largest has a population of approximately 23k.
  • It has 240 parishes made up with many small villages with large rural areas.
  • Over recent years Cornwall has not been prosperous, its economy reliant in the main with low paid seasonal work.
  • Yet with European funding being given to Cornwall it has started to gain ground economically.
  • Whilst this has been a slow process, the recent recession and comprehensive spending review has stalled this progress.
  • One thing Cornwall does have is community spirit, with one of the highest volunteer rates in the country.
  • Our churches are an integral part of community life with active involvement in many areas, befriending meetings, homelessness and social care.
  • But sometimes even when we work together the problem is overloaded by the capacity of need.
  • This is currently so with Foodbank within Cornwall: in many areas need outstrips capacity.
  • Currently in areas such as Camborne, Foodbank provide 30 families with support for a maximum of 3 weeks, this decision relates to the gap from losing a job to gaining social benefits.
  • Many of these households may need more help and this happens when capacity allows.
  • Recently new Foodbanks opened in the Penzance and Hayle areas.
  • Our reason for writing is to ask for your help in meeting the need for Foodbank in our community via the placement of food boxes in your stores to enable the community to donate as they shop or give shops the ability to donate excess stock.
  • These are difficult times for the community of Cornwall and by working together we aim to help as many of the residents in need as we can.
  • Your organisations help would be appreciated in these difficult times.”
  • Yours,
  • Rt Revd Tim Thornton
    Bishop of Cornwall

Could you use some free food?

If you or your family are really struggling to feed yourselves food banks are always happy to help out:

Here’s a full list of the food banks in Cornwall

And if you’re interested in local economics, the council has an excellent interactive map that comes up with statistics if you hover over your hometown.

The map of Cornish poverty ranks each local district by ‘deprivation’ on a national scale.

Posted by on September 6, 2011. Filed under Today's Top Cornish Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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