A village community food store, set up to provide essential supplies to people struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, has been given funding to stock up on frozen items.
Dordon Community Food Store was opened at the start of the first lockdown amid rising concerns that some villagers were finding it increasingly tough to feed their families.
It also succeeded in making elderly and vulnerable people feel safer by being able to shop in intimate premises near their home with a strict ‘one in, one out’ policy.
Shoppers who visit the store are asked to donate whatever they can afford for their shopping. The average donation to date is around £5.
A three-month old freezer, belonging to a Dordon resident who recently died, was donated to the charity, enabling it to stock up with frozen items for the first time. It will soon be packed with food including meat and fish, thanks to a £500 donation from Tamworth Co-operative Society.
The money has come from the society’s Cash in a Bag scheme and was raised from the introduction of a 5p levy on the sale of plastic bags across its food stores.
Samantha McCarthy, chairperson of Dordon Community Food Store, was delighted to receive the cheque.
She said: “Our shopping costs up to £3,000 every month and we receive average donations of £120-130 a month in our store, so we really appreciate help with funding.
“We recently received a second grant of £9,000 from The National Lottery and we get other help with funding too, including support from local councillors. The money from the Tamworth Co-op is very important to us and we have used it specifically to stock up on frozen food which is something new for us.
“We would like to say a big thank you to the Tamworth Co-op for this donation. It has been very gratefully received and will help a lot of people.”
Samantha, who is one of three original founders of the community food store, said around 50 families in Dordon are currently being supported. However, she fears more people might be missing out because of their pride.
“I believe there are some people who really need to come to the shop, but don’t because they feel there is a stigma attached to it. My message to them is please come. You’ll find we don’t judge or embarrass anyone. You just give what you can afford to give. If you need us, we’re here.”
The food store, which is located at the rear of Dordon Village Hall, is open on Mondays from 12pm-2pm and on Fridays from 1pm-3pm. Due to increased demand it will now also be open on Thursday evenings from 6pm-9pm.
In between there is a great deal of work carried out by a small team of volunteers.
“We have to organise funds and we also collect food from other supermarkets who offer us a trade price.”
Samantha also helps out at the shop, along with committee member Lesley Harvey and treasurer Debbie Sullivan and other people working behind the scenes.
“I’m Dordon born and bred. It’s very rewarding work,” added Samantha who fits her role in between the morning and evening shifts of her full-time job.
“There is even one kind person who regularly brings us fresh vegetables from his allotment. The store has generated a lot of warmth in the community. It is not just for people on benefits, but for working families who are genuinely struggling and come here to help reduce their food bills. Opening on Thursday night will hopefully be more convenient to them.
“We never turn anyone away. We’ve helped people from places such as Atherstone too.”
Sian Evans, senior supervisor at the Dordon Co-op store, who handed over the cheque, said:
“Poverty can happen to anybody and because of the pandemic and the increased pressure from domestic bills many more people are struggling financially. It’s brilliant to be able to support such a fantastic cause as this.”