Finchley Food Bank - how we make it work

The Synagogue was recently contacted to report on how we have succeeded in establishing a food collection scheme within the community. Organiser Peggy Sherwood writes:

“In Spring 2014, I read on a local blog site about the Finchley Foodbank which had opened recently.  I immediately contacted our Rabbi at Finchley Progressive Synagogue (FPS), Rabbi Rebecca Birk, to ask her if FPS could get involved in promoting the Foodbank and getting our members to give food donations for the Foodbank.  I got an immediate and resounding “YES!” from her – FPS is very involved in local community projects and Tikkun Olam. 

I contacted Finchley Foodbank and said FPS wanted to be involved.  It seemed a good idea to visit Finchley Foodbank before we got started to see how they go about running it every Saturday morning at St Mary’s Church in East Finchley and it was a humbling experience making me even more determined to help as much as we could.

We agreed that we should deliver donations to St Barnabus Church which is a drop-off point for the Foodbank but also very close to FPS as they do a weekly Friday run with donations to the Foodbank.  We put a large box in the lobby of the Synagogue for donations and then set about publicising it within FPS.

FPS sends out a weekly email update and so we wrote something for this as it seemed a good starting point.  We also put a link on FPS’ website and Facebook page explaining a little about the Foodbank and the collection point at FPS and then from time to time, I write an article for Shofar (FPS’ monthly magazine) about the Foodbank and this always elicits a good response.  I keep in touch with the Finchley Foodbank Facebook page, as they update it with items that are currently needed, and I’m able to let our members know so they can match their donations with the need.

At Yom Kippur (fast day) we also suggested that people brought to FPS the equivalent in tins etc of what they would have eaten on Yom Kippur and again this yielded a lot of produce.  We have recently decided to put a charity collection box above the donations collection box for members who aren’t able to directly donate items to the food bank to put loose change in.  I’m happy to coordinate this and collect the money as and when and buy items that are needed by the Foodbank.  Since this is a new initiative we aren’t sure how well this will work out and we really want people to engage with the concept of buying the needed items rather than giving money for others to buy the items but we’re keen to maximise the donations so will see how it goes.

Once we got into the routine of it, there really isn’t a lot of work involved – publicising it within synagogue processes, and then collecting and delivering the food and household items.  It really is an example of little effort expense for a big impact on people’s lives.

FPS as a community is very proud of its social action work, and the Foodbank fits very well into the synagogue’s philosophy.  For me personally, I find it shocking that in 2018 in London people are relying so heavily on Foodbanks.  A few weeks ago, in blazing sun, there were 49 adults and children at Finchley Foodbank needing food.”