Managers and volunteers at the Cardiff Food bank warehouse
Staff and volunteers at the Cardiff Food bank warehouse

10,000 people fed by Cardiff Foodbank in six months – and plenty more predicted

Army of 200 volunteers gearing up to help those affected by the cost-of-living crisis this winter

CARDIFF Foodbank is expecting a steep increase in customers coming in for help this year.

Project manager Emma Shepherd says 10,000 people have been fed since April compared with 13,000 for the whole previous financial year.

This is an increase of 42% in those using Cardiff foodbanks from April to September 2022 compared with the same period in 2021. Parcels given to children rose by 51%.

Ms Shepherd, who oversees eight foodbanks across Cardiff, said: “In the first six months of this financial year we’ve already fed 10,000 people but I’m expecting that to go up even further.”

To meet this demand, the foodbank organised a three-day food drive in partnership with three Tesco stores across the city.

The drive delivered a total of 10227.9 kg of dried and tinned food making it its largest collection.

“So far the public have been as generous as they always have so we’re not actually seeing a decrease in our stock but if the demand continues to rise then the stock levels will not keep up, said Ms Shepherd.

She describes January, February and March as the fallow months.

“We won’t get many donations in and because of the demand for foodbanks at the moment, even though we have all these crates of food now, they can go down really quickly,” she said.

How do food banks work?

Ms Shepherd organises 12 sessions per week from Monday to Saturday. Each centre provides a list of what it needs each week and the warehouse delivers provisions in electric vans, driven by volunteers.

The Cardiffian has made a map showing all eight food banks across Cardiff with information such as opening times and contact details.

Those who are in need of accessing a foodbank can be referred by a variety of agencies including Cardiff advice services and Barnardo’s Family Support Service. The full list of partner agencies can be found here.

Those in need then fill out a simple questionnaire about their family size and dietary requirements and packs are put together to match.

These include parcels for those with minimal cooking facilities, such as relying entirely on a kettle, to those with no cooking facilities at all.

Vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, halal, and gluten free parcels can be provided by Cardiff Foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network.

Since Ms Shepherd took over in May 2022, the number of volunteers has grown to 200 with a waiting list of 40. They work across the delivery centres and in the central warehouse sorting and packing donations.

Ultimately we do not want to be here, we’re glad we are and we can help people but we don’t want to be here

Emma Shepherd

Two such volunteers are retirees John and Julia Collard, who help in the Titan Road warehouse in Splott six hours a week.

Despite the growing numbers of volunteers, Ms Shepherd is worried about the pressures on staff who want to provide a holistic service rather than something “transactional”.

“We have volunteers who have used the foodbank and want to give something back so they come and help us,” she added.

She is encouraging people to talk to politicians, friends, and family about why foodbanks are needed in the first place.

“Ultimately we do not want to be here, we’re glad we are and we can help people but we don’t want to be here,” she said.

The Cardiffian has put together a map of everything you need to know about accessing support this winter. Included are places to stay warm and where to find free meals and get discounted groceries.