FOODBANKS are seeing an increase in donations as well as demand for their services as the coronavirus lockdown enters its third week.

A new foodbank in Buckland Monachorum is offering free food donated by Morrisons in Tavistock.

The foodbank is open to all from 10am to 12 noon in the chapel and an hour in the early evening every day.

‘We have set up a group called Buckland Cares and the foodbank is part of that,’ said organiser Lucy Wood.

‘We have been open for three days now and I think we have established a need judging by the number of people who have been going in and using it. I think we have helped about 15 families.’

She said it meant people did not have to leave the village, which does not have a shop, to access emergency food.

‘That need is not going to go away,’ she said. ‘It is going to get more rather than less, so I think we will definitely be here for a long time to come.’

In Okehampton, the foodbank has also reported a rise in demand since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Spokesperson Isobel Jarrett said: ‘It has definitely got a lot busier. We were averaging ten or 12 parcels a week before but we’ve done 30, 32 and 40 parcels in the last three weeks. We are delivering every day now, not just doing it on a Friday. We are delivering to people who are having to self-isolate.

‘We are still open at the Baptist Church every Friday morning (10am to 12 noon) so anyone who cannot contact us any other way can come along then, but we are encouraging people to contact us through email — [email protected] — if they can.’

Donations to the foodbank can still be dropped off in the dedicated areas in the Co-op and Waitrose in Okehampton.

In Tavistock the foodbank, which is run from the United Reformed Church, remains open (10am-12noon on Fridays) and donations of both food and money have increased.

URC minister Rob Weston said: ‘Perhaps surprisingly, we are coping really well. We have had a huge influx of food donations and monetary donations so we really give our heartfelt thanks to the people of Tavistock for their generosity.

‘We have not so far seen any increase in demand but we appreciate that there may be in the near future. The longer this lockdown goes on, the more people will be struggling. We have had a struggle in terms of volunteers, because a lot of our volunteers are over 70 or have underlying health issues and so need to stay at home.Thankfully though we have been able to recruit five volunteers under the age of 70 who have been tremendous. We are still operating through Citizens Advice on a referrals basis.’

He said that the Tavistock foodbank was working with the new Tavistock Locals Help group to do deliveries.

‘If someone is having to self-isolate so can’t get out to the foodbank, they can deliver a foodbank parcel. It is about sensibly joining up the facilities.’

On the Bere Peninsula, foodbank coordinator Christine Fine said: ‘We haven’t had a vast increase in numbers but we are only a few weeks in. We are either making deliveries or making an appointment for people to come to our office in Bere Alston at a particular time. Just a couple of days ago I made a delivery to someone who was in isolation.’

‘Donations to the foodbank are down, but we are managing. We have had some very generous donations of money which is useful provided we can get the food. Foodbank parcels are usually canned and dried food but for those in isolation we are adding fresh items, milk and bread, so people don’t go without.’