SHARE Wokingham has expanded its fight against food poverty with a new service launched yesterday.
It opened SHARE Winnersh on in a bid to reach “disengaged” residents.
Every Wednesday, the charity will distribute food parcels from Rainbow Park Community Centre – and on day one, it gave away nearly all of its stock in 20 minutes.
Claire Revie, founder of SHARE Wokingham, said it was “scary” to see how many people turned up for help.
“It’s brilliant the food has gone quickly but it shows the hidden need,” she said.
Ms Revie said SHARE launched its Winnersh site with the borough council to help people who cannot access the Wokingham centre on Norreys Avenue.
Yesterday, the charity worked with council officers to distribute 250 flyers alerting people about the new service.
“Access to something like this isn’t really appreciated, especially in Wokingham which isn’t seen as an area of deprivation,” Ms Revie explained.
“But there is this level of need here in Winnersh and we can help support that by accessing food that will otherwise be wasted.”
She said in the past, people have walked to SHARE’s Wokingham site from Bracknell to collect parcels.
The food hampers are available to anybody in need without a referral. They include fresh vegetables, pantry items and personal hygiene products.
SHARE Wokingham stocks them with re-distributed food which would otherwise be sent to landfill, working with supermarkets including Lidl, Waitrose and Morrisons.
“We don’t want to create a barrier for people,” Ms Revie added. “Some of these families are living on just £20 a week after paying for basic utilities.
“And the need isn’t going away, especially with the Universal Credit cut that will have a big impact on a lot of families from next month.”
Alongside its new Winnersh centre, SHARE Wokingham has also launched a tea and coffee facility at Norreys Church so people can socialise while they collect parcels.
“We wanted to have somewhere safe for people to come and talk, free of charge,” the SHARE founder said.
“If we have enough support, we’d absolutely set one up in Winnersh.”
Ms Revie said SHARE hopes to launch more distribution centres across the borough in the future, including in Finchampstead, Woodley and Shinfield.
“If we can get the support, we’ll open up more,” she explained. “We will happily do it because the need isn’t going away.”
SHARE Winnersh is now looking for more volunteers to cover the new site.
For more information, search for ‘SHARE Wokingham’ on Facebook.