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7th October 2013

UK first as Manchester students open food bank

University of Manchester volunteers have been heavily involved
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Manchester students have opened the country’s first student-run food bank.

Volunteers at the Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy started the venture, which includes students from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and RNCM.

The students began the project after seeing increased levels of poverty through their work with a mobile soup kitchen.

Joey Ferrigno, Project Manager at the Manchester Central Foodbank, told The Mancunion, “We thought that we should start a food bank as a pro-active measure that would prevent more people falling into this situation.

“In order to combat this problem, we as a society need to admit that there is one so that we can go about solving it.  Too often this problem is swept under the rug and away from where it can be seen by the public.”

Despite being tied to the Chaplaincy, Ferrigno insists that faith is not an issue where the food bank is concerned: “The food bank is open to anyone regardless of faith (volunteers and those we serve).

“As Christians we try to not judge anyone who walks through our doors, as it takes a lot of bravery and humility for any individual to walk into a food-bank.”

The Poverty Commission has warned that 1.6 million people across the Manchester region are at risk of being in severe poverty, whilst it is estimated that 47% of children in the Manchester Central constituency are below the poverty line, the highest level in the UK.

However, Tory MP Paul Maynard has spoken against food banks during a recent food poverty summit in Manchester, claiming that those in need could become too reliant on the help.

He said: “I value personal responsibility… I do not believe that immediate food relief should be the role of the government.

“We can’t make food-banks part of the welfare state. What I don’t want to do is normalise food poverty.”

In response, Joey Ferrigno told The Mancunion: “The food that we give is never paid for and is provided by donations.

“More importantly we do not solely give out food but also act as a signposting agency.  What this means is that we refer people onwards to other agencies we feel can best help them in their crisis.

“There are many provisions in place to prevent people becoming reliant on the food bank.

“We only provide individuals and families with three days of emergency food, which is the time it takes for a new agency to process you.  We can only provide food to each individual three times in a six month period, which prevents creating a dependency culture.

He added:  “I agree that we don’t want food poverty to become normalised. The first goal of a food bank is to put itself out of business.”

The food bank is open Wednesday 10-12 a.m. at the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy, next to the Church of the Holy Name.  It hopes to eventually be open three times a week.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Manchester Central Foodbank should email [email protected] or go to the Chaplaincy Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.


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