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The outpour of criticism has already caused one food bank to reverse its decision, while others have defended the closures
Next Monday has been declared an official bank holiday as the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Following the news, various organisations have announced that they will close for the day, including several of the UK’s food banks.
On Monday, a food bank in Stoke-on-Trent said that it will close three distribution points at churches in the city, as well as its warehouse and office. Food banks in Liverpool, Stockport, Bristol and London made similar announcements.
The closures have sparked a tide of backlash on social media, with many drawing attention to the cost-of-living crisis. One Tweeter commented: “Starving the living in #CostOfLivingCrises to honour the Queen (who never went hungry/homeless/cold in her life) is inhumane, deplorable & abhorrent.”
Another person added: “Closing food banks “in honour of the Queen” seems like a really, genuinely, morosely awful idea. I sort of feel like everyone has gone a bit mad here.”
Celebrities have also spoken out about the issue, with comedian Fern Brady writing: “I can’t with this. Record levels of child poverty and use of food banks and folk are leaving sandwiches to a dead woman who had the best of everything.”
Pop duo Jedward wrote: “Why are food banks being closed? The Homeless and vulnerable families shouldn’t suffer”.
Following the outpour of criticism, one food bank has reversed its decision. “Due to the overwhelming support we have received we now have volunteers to run our Monday session as usual,” wrote the Wimbledon-based food bank on Twitter. “As a reminder we are not a government service and run solely on peoples donations of time, money and food.”
However, other food banks have defended their decision to close. Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, which supports 1,300 UK food banks, said: “Food banks in our network run sessions on different days and at different times. Food banks are best placed to make the right decision for their communities and will ensure everyone who needs support can access it as they do with every bank holiday.”
Meanwhile, another Tweeter, named Lydia Caradonna, said: “Food banks shut all the time, including often on weekends, Christmas, and other bank holidays. This is because they are run by people! And these people do care.”
She continued: “When food banks are shut, they usually signpost to places where people can get emergency food, and prepare to distribute more on the surrounding days so nobody misses out
“Food Banks shutting for the bank holiday – bc really it’s for the bank holiday, which happens to be caused by the funeral – gives these workers a day off. I think they deserve one alongside the rest of the country.”
Trussel Trust food banks distributed more than 2.1 million food parcels to people in crisis between April 2021 and March 2022 — an 81% increase compared to the same period five years ago. The food bank says it has fed more than 4,000 people to date, with 40% of that number being young children.
To help anyone concerned about Monday’s closures, the Trust’s Emma Revie added: “As each food bank is an independent charity, we’d encourage people who need support to contact their local food bank to check their opening hours.”