One of the perks of volunteering at a food bank is that there’s no shortage of edible freebies. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve given a home to two boxes of Dorset cereal, a packet of soup mix, some delicious tomatoes and three eggs. I was restrained on Monday and didn’t take home a family sized bag of crisps (I rarely eat crisps, but for the record, these taste amazing!), although several other volunteers swiped some. About a month ago, I also ended up with some bread, simply because the homeless guy who sits around the corner from the church – who I’d been intending to give it to – refused to take it as he already had a loaf!
The deal is essentially this: any food that’s out of date at Southampton City Mission is up for grabs. But not before the clients themselves have had a chance to grab it. Food that has a short expiry date or has very recently expired gets put onto a table for clients to help themselves. This week we had loads of the aforementioned crisps and some cranberry drinks, for example. We also leave out slightly more unusual food donations; things like giant bottles of sauerkraut (seriously!), tinned lychees, golden syrup and creamed coconut, along with bread that’s taken too much of a battering and fresh herbs.
Food on the ‘help yourself’ table inevitably gets whisked away by clients by the end of the day, which is great. The crisps were a big hit this week. One young lad came up to me with an Oliver Twist sort of expression on his face and asked if he could maybe have a second bag as they were his favourites. Even though the food we distribute is obviously free anyway, there’s something nice about the idea of clients getting an extra freebie.