What are foodbanks for?
I’d say that they are a short-term solution for the individual in need. And that being aware of this position – short-term solution for the individual, and the larger problems with the system – the local foodbank here has written into the document that each of the churches who support it sign up to an undertaking to
“To act as they deem necessary to lessen the need for the Food Bank through campaigning for social justice”
The foodbank knows that it is a sticking plaster, but is one that also then turns to the churches and calls them to be the voice for the voiceless. The foodbank also has as a key aim the need to close due to lack of demand for the service it provides.
Having spent sometime thinking about this – and hoping to do some more about the topic and get it written so it can be engaged with – I think we need both foodbanks and food coops. The first is there to meet needs in an emergency or crisis (to reach out and feed those who have no food), then the second is there for the long term need for food that people can access.
I think the bigger issue is when the two objectives get mixed up, foodbanks are not there in my understanding for long term support, however they do fill a need. Food coops it seems to me fill the long term need around accessing food, however can not give food in a crisis. Thus the two can be seen to complement each other.
However I also think that the church needs to do some theological thinking around these – not instead of doing, but alongside it. This is to work out why we are doing it, and how to best do it.