Tunbridge Wells’ Nourish Community Foodbank

With almost 9-years’ worth of supporting residents of Tunbridge Wells, Nourish Community Foodbank remains focused on helping the most vulnerable in our society but similar to most, the last twelve months have been testing to say the least.

Nourish was founded by Olga Johnson in 2012 who realised there were many people struggling to feed their households across Tunbridge Wells, and with seed funding from Town & Country Housing Group and match funding from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Nourish was created and the first deliveries were made just before Christmas 2012.

We caught up with Sarah Raine, who works at the Foodbank, to find out how operations have been impacted over the past twelve months and Nourish’s involvement in the community.

Sarah explained that, at times, the Foodbank saw an increase of over 150% compared to pre-pandemic: “We saw a huge increase in demand for our services from people in crisis across the whole Borough of Tunbridge Wells as well as South Tonbridge as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on our community. Each and every week, we have seen more and more referrals.

“To put this into context, in the year 2019/2020 before COVID-19, we provided 91,269 meals so we estimate that by the end of 2020/2021 we will have supported our community with around 150,000-200,000 meals.

“When people think of Tunbridge Wells they may think of an affluent town and perhaps cannot imagine food poverty being an issue. It may come as a surprise to know that a recent report by End Child Poverty (May 2020) highlighted that 22% of children in our borough are living in poverty.”

From benefit changes, debt problems, unemployment to domestic abuse, there are a number of complex reasons why people might need support from Nourish, Sarah explains: “The consequences of food poverty can be far reaching, including increased crime, loss of tenancies, mental health problems and family breakdown. Nourish can help provide more positive outcomes by offering a period of respite and an opportunity for change.”


What are some of the biggest problems your food bank will face in 2021?

“Our concern is that we may see a further increase in redundancies and as furlough schemes come to an end, that there will be more people experiencing food poverty. Our mantra is that “we will be here for this crisis and the next” so we are committed to doing everything we can to continue to meet the need in our community.”


How can our readers support your food bank?

“Like many charities, we need to ensure we can sustain our services long-term, so we actively encourage anyone who wishes to support us financially, to do so through a small monthly regular gift. Receiving regular income means the charity can plan for the future and not live hand to mouth so we are incredible grateful for any regular givers.”


How important are volunteers to Nourish Community Foodbank?

“Our volunteers range in age between 16 and 80 years and are the lifeblood of Nourish Community Foodbank, we simply couldn’t do what we do without their support.

“We just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to our community for your ongoing support. We have seen the very best in people’s compassion during this pandemic towards those less fortunate than themselves – thank you for continuing to care.”


Sarah also made sure to thank her incredible Operations Manager Dawn Stanford: “Dawn manages a small team to handle all our client referrals, our administration, our storage unit and the team of volunteers who pick, pack and deliver our food parcels. We are incredibly proud to have a fantastic team of 11 trustees and over 60 dedicated volunteers who support Dawn in delivering the critical services that Nourish Community Foodbank provides to our community. Dawn always goes over and above for our beneficiaries.”


To give food, please check out their website which has the latest items the foodbank are short of and a map of their drop off points. You can also donate on the website, and ensure these amazing volunteers can continue helping the community.

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