In a word – no. Some people think that foodbanks operate on a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ basis: once you’ve received 3 vouchers’ worth of food, you’re left to fend for yourself. This isn’t the case.
Exeter Foodbank operates as a crisis service; receiving food from the foodbank should never be a long-term substitute for resolving the issues that leave people unable to buy food for themselves. For this reason, we advise our authorised referral agencies that they may issue a person with ‘up to 3 vouchers per crisis’ in the first instance. (Each voucher provides at least 3 days’ worth of nutritionally-balanced food.)
However, we also recognise that everyone’s situation is different; imposing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule would not be in the best interests of the individuals, with very diverse stories, whom we meet. Just as some people will not need three vouchers, there are a range of reasons why others may require food over a slightly longer period to support their progress. For example, the average waiting time between making an application for Universal Credit and receiving the first benefit payment is around 6 weeks*; those paying off debts, meanwhile, may face significant pre-set repayments over several weeks or months.
If a referrer knows that the person they are working with is likely to need more than 3 foodbank vouchers, we simply ask that they talk to us so that further support can be arranged. This will usually involve issuing an agreed number of additional vouchers before further review.
This liaison process helps us to develop effective partnerships with our 120 referral agencies, and serves a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it ensures that no one in need goes hungry; on the other, it helps to ensure that people receive the specialist support they need to address the underlying cause(s) of their crisis, and to move forward with their lives.
Do you have a question about Exeter Foodbank that you have never had the chance to ask? Email your question to [email protected], tweet it to @ExeterFB (#EFBFAQ) or write to us at the address overleaf. We’ll feature some of the most Frequently Asked Questions in forthcoming editions of the newsletter – watch this space!