Head girl and boy Anya and Aryan explain the importance of food banks and their programme to support them.

Easter is a time of year to celebrate and enjoy all to come. It’s a time to share with family and admire all that everyone has gone through. However, for some this can be particularly tough, especially in current circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic has been extremely disastrous for many leading to an increase in the importance of food banks and other voluntary services. 1 in 5 people in the UK live below the poverty line and they cannot be forgotten. Many people are in crisis due to the loss of their job, as a cause of the virus, or an unexpected bill on low income. However, food banks such as Lewisham food bank are always there to help them through this particularly tough time. For over 8 years the food bank has been fighting against poverty and delivered over 4,300 three-day emergency food supplies during the unexpected year that was 2020.    

At Eltham College head girl and boy Anya and Aryan set up a collection of non-perishable items and Easter eggs for struggling households and the Lewisham food bank. They told me that “We value community. Because of the lockdown we want to help those that are local to us”. At Eltham College community is an important aspect of school life and the local community now “needs our support”. Bringing in items from home is “easily achieved” and “doesn’t require much effort”. Anya and Aryan believe “food is a necessity” and the effort we put in “goes a long way for others”.  

Coronavirus has created much uncertainty for the future as “unemployment has become so much worse” and causes crisis within families. Food banks are an immensely helpful “safety net” for these individuals and all the help that students at Eltham and volunteers can give always comes in extremely handy. It always returns to community and the importance of helping locally. “The local community should be supported by the school” and “it reflects the school’s values”. 

A big question is “how much food do we really use in our household?”. A lot of items in many people’s homes would go to waste and they believe that individuals should be more conscious of what they're using. When one shops “you should be more conscious of what you’re buying” as we don’t always need everything and the surplus that we buy could potentially be given to food banks to help support others.  Especially during the lockdown “sometimes we overbuy thinking that we’re going to need all this but realistically do we actually need it all?”. For example, “when I was going through my cupboards, I found tins that I would never use. I thought about how much more they could be valued by other people”.  

“No matter how much has been donated, there is always more that can be given”. It’s important to know that you’re always able to help and it’s an issue that “should be pressed more often”. Again it “doesn’t require much effort” and it’s extremely easy to help. “More will come from raising it more often”. Other ways people can help is through directly raising money for the Trussel Trust which coordinates food banks, like Lewisham’s, to support others in need in a monetary capacity. The Trussel Trust is an extraordinary initiative looking for a “Hunger Free Future” and any sort of support is greatly appreciated as it helps them to continue the great work that they undertake.  

Eltham has run other initiatives to help those in need, such as “The Big Red Box” scheme and care-home packages donating vital foodstuffs to those “who have been some of the worst hit during the lockdown”. “We hope to continuously support the local community through student led initiatives” say Anya and Aryan who plan to lead another whole school event to raise funds and collect items for those that need them most.