FIRST Minister and Gordon MSP Alex Salmond and Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster carried out the official duty of opening the new Aberdeenshire North Food Bank in Inverurie on Monday (March 24).
The official ceremony was carried out Inverurie Loco Works FC to accommodate a large crowd of guests including many local volunteers who staff the food bank located at the Harlaw Centre on Harlaw Road, staff members from Tesco, Inverurie who make regular collections in store, and members of the local community.
Food bank manager Stephen King told guests that the food bank actually began in November 2012 in association with Garioch Church and the Trussell Trust Network. The Aberdeen North Food Bank covers Garioch, Formartine, Upper Marr and Banff and Buchan, and moved to premises kindly supplied by Aberdeenshire Council, at the Harlaw Centre last year. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the food bank has benefited from collections at Tesco, Inverurie and the Tesco and Asda stores in Huntly. To date an amazing 9 tonnes of food have been donated, not only through store collections but also from the generosity of schools, Churches, clubs and societies, and of course, individual donations.
Mr King noted that from an initial 20 carer referrals, the food bank now provides a service to 209 individuals, along with another 108 through vouchers. It is hoped a new centre in Ellon will be operational by the end of April.
Provost Webster praised the food bank as one of “many wonderful community projects based in the Garioch”. She wished the food bank every success and also highlighted the invaluable help of the Trussell Trust.
The First Minister said that he had “mixed emotions” in officially opening the food bank, pointing out that they should not be required in 21st century Scotland, but noted admiration for those volunteers, partners and Church organisations responsible. He put the blame on the rise in need for food banks on changes to benefits and increased pressure on family budgets. He pledged his total support and wished the new venture every success.
The food bank at the Harlaw Centre is open for two hours every Monday to Friday, and is also available on an “out of hours” services. Details can be obtained by phoning 07967 364600, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aberdeenshirenorth.foodbank.org.uk.