Christmas is often the time when families start to feel the pinch, with this year especially challenging for people all over the country. As a result, food banks are experiencing unprecedented demand as more people are reliant on them with many running dangerously low on supplies.
In 2018, Fareham Running Club came up with the idea to begin donating to their local food bank on the south coast of England and have since created the nationwide Food Bank Run campaign. There are currently over 200 pledges to support the Food Bank Run throughout the country, and you could be the next!
We recently caught up with Club Community Safeguarding Officer and Food Bank Run co-founder Sarah Donaghy to find out more.
How did the Food Bank Run start?
“In 2018 the club chairman, James Musselwhite, phoned me with an idea to rock up to a food bank and donate, so I went away and thought about how we could achieve it. I got in contact with our local food bank, and luckily the lady running this was part of my mother and toddler group, so we got together to work out how to start.
“We came up with the idea to run to the food bank. We firstly ran to the local church and donated the food there to be collected, then last year ran directly to the food bank and donated it straight there.
“We originally didn’t know if the club would get on board, thinking maybe 20 would turn up. However, since the first one we have had around 100 members involved and it grows every year!”
“The Food Bank Run will take place in February 2023. However, we’ve had clubs get in touch who have already started donating with dress rehearsals for next year! We would love this to become an ongoing thing especially with the challenging pinch points throughout the year.”
Running clubs supporting the community
“Supporting the community stops us from being an isolated club. This year was a bit different for me as I had a stillborn baby in January. The club’s support was amazing, delivering cooked meals and food to support our family. When I came back, I thought I had to help the Food Bank Run because I have experienced a similar struggle myself. I thought we can’t keep this initiative to ourselves, and we need to try and help others nationwide.
“My aim is to fill up as many food banks as we can with the help of the runners. We have had councils, schools, offices, triathlon clubs, athletics clubs, and hotel chains getting in contact so far.
“There’s no limit to what we want to do. February is the hardest time for food banks as all the bills kick in and it is gloomy, with rising household heating and electricity costs.”
“The tagline of the Food Bank Run is ‘the running community helping the local community’, and I don’t know any time as a runner where I have felt so connected to people without having to enter a big race or event.
“Even if you can’t run, you can drive down to the local food bank and welcome people, you can give out water. It celebrates everybody coming together rather than just the fastest runners or people who have done a marathon. The Food Bank Run is extremely inclusive and allows you to feel connected to runners up and down the country.”
The community at Fareham Running Club
“The community at Fareham is amazing, as it is so inclusive. My favourite thing about it is nobody knows what you do when you are out there. Nobody knows your job, nobody knows your status, you could be anyone.
“At Fareham Running Club, we invite everyone to our club, and it’s important that our club is an open community for all to try. We meet at a local leisure centre. It isn’t glamorous, but we don’t have a dedicated club base. When 80 to 100 people turn up on a club night, it makes you realise it is the people who create the place.
“Inclusivity is really important to us. When we have had people with disabilities get in touch, we will always work to try and accommodate their needs. There was one runner at the club with autism, and we made sure that when we all come together and it is noisy at the start of the session, there is a quiet place for them to wait before enjoying the run.”
Want to get involved?
If you would like to support this fantastic cause, Fareham Running Club have put together a quick and easy five step guide to help you out.
There is also a Facebook group for you to join, to share your experiences and motivate others to organise their own Food Bank Run and support their local community. There is even an interactive map to track all of the clubs who have pledged their support so far!
Don’t forget, you do not need to donate a whole week’s shopping to make a difference, every small donation helps! If each runner at a club donated one can or jar of food next February, then that could be hundreds of supplies for a local food bank, to support families in need.