We spoke to Mutual Aid Vegan Foodbank about how their organisation has evolved in their first year.
Despite being among some of the richest countries in the world, more and more people are relying on food banks to ensure they do not go hungry. Mutual Aid Vegan Foodbank is one of Brighton’s newest food banks trying to help this growing problem in a society impacted by austerity measures.
The charity explained most of the people who run MAVF are vegans themselves for a range of reasons, such as environmental reasons and animal rights. As they reflect on almost a year in action collecting and giving out food, a volunteer at Mutual Aid Vegan Foodbank (MAVF) said: “There are so many reasons why the vegan food bank started. Mostly it was the will to help those in need, especially those who couldn’t access other food banks.”
Based at the Cowley Club on London Road, MAVF offer an eclectic range of healthy vegan products to be redistributed to people forced into poverty, including those suffering from financial struggles, refugees, and people with mental health problems. Their vegan promise provides the opportunity for interesting and nutritious meals to be made.
“We have been generating donations by organising fundraising gigs at the Cowley club with some great local bands.”
According to statistics collected by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, the number of food parcels handed out in 2017 increased from 298 to 315, but with the value of the package falling from £23 to £20. Seven out of ten food banks in their survey reported an increase in demand over the last year from vulnerably housed people and people in temporary accommodation.
MAVF said: “We aim to provide vegan food and toiletries to anyone in need of basic supplies.
Despite being a small, entirely volunteer-run operation, we managed successfully to provide up to 20 people and their families with weekly supplies that often are the only guarantee of a proper meal.”
Recently, the food bank has been gathering attention at the Open Market Vegan Fair, where they have been accepting donations at the weekend. The organisation said: “We have been generating donations by organising fundraising gigs at the Cowley club with some great local bands, some of them vegan as well.”
“We managed successfully to provide up to 20 people and their families with weekly supplies.”
MAVF explained they have also been putting on a big vegan breakfast feast where people bring donations and support food bank by buying the food on the day and profits go back to the project.“We had as well suited a few of Cowley Club regulars come and drop off donations on a regular basis as well as some people who found out about us online.”
According to their website, FareShare provides around 40% of the food available at Mutual Aid. They have also been thankful for the help of other food banks in Brighton and Hove: “The Hailsham food bank has been super helpful at the beginning when we just opened and didn’t have any stock. They donated so much good to us which was amazing and enabled us to open our food bank as we planned and help so many people in need.”
“Recently, the Whitehawk food bank did the same and donated loads of vegan stuff they had sitting on their shelves not being used, which was so kind and generous of them.”
Food banks heavily rely on the public’s generosity for donations to make their service possible. Donating to an organisation like MAVF would help them raise necessary funds for our office/ storage space rental and for topping up our stock with necessary products.
If you would like to donate to Mutual Aid Vegan Foodbank’s cause, visit their crowdfunding page.