After making one of the country’s biggest food bank donations of its kind, organisers at the Malvern Autumn Show have committed to running a traditional harvest festival collection again in 2020 and plan to make it an annual feature.
To celebrate the 25th show in September, the Three Counties team decided to give back to the community by collecting for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network which are local to the showground.
About 65,000 visitors donated tonnes of food and toiletries worth thousands of pounds which has now been distributed to help people using food banks in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire including Tewkesbury North, Malvern Hills, The Cotswolds, The Forest, Redditch, Droitwich, Worcester and Kidderminster.
Diana Walton, Head of Shows at Three Counties, said: “We were overwhelmed with the response we got from visitors to our call for donations.
“We received so many donations on the first day that we had to move the food packages collected by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to another building on site so there was room for more donations on the Sunday.
“Initially, the idea was that we wanted to celebrate our silver anniversary by giving something back to our community, but visitors really bought into the idea and it’s been so unexpectedly successful that we now we feel it’s something we want to do every year.
“Our visitors responded to the call with outstanding generosity, for which we thank them. Whilst no-one likes that we need food banks in our society, there is a real need for them in the Three Counties, and if we can do our bit each year, then it is worth us making sure it goes ahead.”
Figures show that between 1 April, 2018 and 31 March, 2019 food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network handed out emergency food supplies to 45,824 children and adults in the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire areas alone, and 142,234 across the West Midlands.
Sarah Barcham, area manager at the Trussell Trust said: “When we were approached by the team at Three Counties to hold a harvest festival donation point at Malvern Autumn Show we were more than happy to help to make sure it was going to the people who need it most – and the response really was incredible.
“Our volunteers on site had to work tirelessly to keep receiving the donations across the weekend, and it’s great the show wants to continue this in the future.
“No one in the UK should need to turn to a food bank. But during the last year across our network we’ve seen a 19% increase in foodbank use – that’s 1.6 million emergency food supplies to people in crisis. More than a third of these went to children.
“We’re working towards a future where no one needs a food bank, but until we reach that point, donations from the public are vital. It’s not just food that people at food banks need – if you don’t have any money for the basics, you’re likely to also need toiletries, household items, period products or baby supplies, so food banks welcome donations of these too.”