Exmouth optician shines a light on the cost-of-living crisis and launches a community campaign for the town’s food bank

An optician in Exmouth has launched a community campaign appeal for donations in a bid to boost the town’s food bank.

Staff at Specsavers Exmouth, in Exeter Road, are appealing for donations of tinned goods and other non-perishable items to help people in need.

Donations of pasta, rice, tinned food, coffee, tea and other long-life food items can be dropped off at the store until August 15, ahead of distribution locally.

Kim Swinbourne, dispensing optician at the optician, said: “The Exmouth Food Bank is a wonderful charity doing amazing work, and we felt that we had to help them now that there are so many people struggling.

“People are in crisis because of the cost-of-living situation and they’re having to choose between whether to buy food now or be able to heat their home later in the year.

“Also, with schools having broken up, there are families who maybe don’t get benefits but still struggle to feed their children during the holidays.

“We’ve done this sort of collection before and have always had a brilliant response from the people of Exmouth, filling a test room with donations. They’re very generous and we’re so grateful to them.”

Ian Margeson, Exmouth Food Bank chairman, said: “We are so grateful to Specsavers Exmouth and members of the public who are supporting this collection. It really will help a lot of local people.

‘In July there was a 15 per cent increase in take-up of our services from families, compared to June. Many of these families are new to us, have three or more children and, due to the cost of living, are struggling to make ends meet.

“Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go the way we all plan and, for whatever reason, some people find themselves without the money to buy food.

“We are here to help and can provide food supplies to those who live in Exmouth or the surrounding areas, including Lympstone, Woodbury and Budleigh Salterton.”

Exmouth Food Bank, based in the Salvation Army Hall, Sheppard’s Row, off Exeter Road, open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1.30pm until 3pm, has released an August wish-list of ‘core emergency food stock’ of items it is currently short of ‘due to the recent increase in demand’.

The food bank needs:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Packets of biscuits
  • Tins of meat (stew, ham, corned beef)
  • Tins of fruit
  • Packets of instant potato
  • Jams/peanut butter
  • Longlife milk
  • Sweet and savoury snacks (crisps, sweets, chocolate)
  • Deodorant (male and female)
  • Nappies (size 6 and 6+)
  • Wet dog food
  • Strong bags for life

The town’s food bank was formed 10 years ago as a community larder by a group of local churches.

It aims to provide free emergency food to help to individuals and families in crisis, living in Exmouth and surrounding areas, towns and villages.

In 2021 the Exmouth Food Bank supplied 2,177 food parcels, feeding 4,405 people.

Recent levels of demand for food parcels are more than double the annual averages for 2014-2020. It is thought the rise has partly been caused by the effects of Covid-19, and the soaring cost of food, fuel and utility bills.

Exmouth

The store in Exeter Road, Exmouth.
Photo: Specsavers.

  • For more information about the food bank’s services, and how to get help, see here.

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