The Haslemere Food Bank opened on 1st July 2013.

Since then, we’ve been the intermediary between those who want to donate food and those in need of food support. Decisions about who should come to the food bank have always been given to ‘referral partners’. These partners assess the needs of people they are supporting and then refer them to us for food support.

We give our referral partners and agencies referral forms to pass on to the people they are caring for. These forms only ask for a surname, the number of adults and children that need supported and a note to say whether they are new to the food bank or returning. Only the numbers involved are kept as a permanent record. No other information is kept either physically or on a computer.

Since we opened, donations have come through ‘collection points’. There are collection points in our local Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets as well as one in each of the churches in Haslemere and the surrounding area. Since 2021, additional collection points have been put in local businesses and locations around the town to make donating even easier. Lists of required foodstuffs and toiletries are sent to each collection point, published on our website and shared via social media.

Once collected, donations are transferred to a central store. Here they are sorted, marked according to the best before date, and then put on the shelves. From these stored donations, packs for families and individuals are made up each week. These are then given out to those in need who have a referral form from one of our many referral partners. Each pack should contain sufficient food to feed a family / individual for three days.

The Haslemere Food Bank venue was chosen because it had a daily café to which anyone could come for a drink and a chat. This means people coming to the food bank would not be easily identified as different from other café users. It also gives us the chance to offer hospitality and to provide a drink and a bite to eat. In addition, it provides the opportunity to chat, which some people welcome. Others prefer to pick up their food pack and go.

There are always at least two volunteers on duty, one to offer hospitality, the other exchanged to exchange the referral form voucher for the food pack. Our amazing volunteers are keep the store in good order and make up packs. More importantly, they would make people feel welcome and at home, without being intrusive and whilst maintaining strict confidentiality in relation to any information shared.

The way we provide food packs is effective and helped us to cope with demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which we received five times as many requests for support. We became a Registered Charity, (1193577) in 2023. A huge thank you again to all our volunteers, referral partners and our donors for all your support. You really are making a difference.