Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank appeals for pledges as new era set to begin

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Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank, which is based out of the Salvation Army premises in Burntisland, will formally become its own entity in July. For the last nine years, it has held a firm association with neighbouring Kirkcaldy’s foodbank, but rising costs meant that it was not a sustainable model.

In January, the Burntisland and Kinghorn teams were given notice of the impending split and have spent the last four months assessing the future of the service. Now it is local service is appealing for support from the local community as it embarks on a new chapter.

“We weren’t part of the original plan and I think it’s just come to the point where we need to let Burntisland go,” explained Pat Gibson, volunteer team leader and board member at Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank. I think Kirkcaldy Foodbank is struggling to sustain itself. It is spending around £20,000 a month on food, which is a lot.”

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The split has been a long time coming as charities find themselves having to stretch their means further as demand grows. An initial meeting in February saw 14 new board members come on board for the charity, described by Pat as “really talented” and “all gifted in different areas.”

Catriona Pearce, Carol Mitchell and Pat Gibson will be part of the independent Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank in July (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Catriona Pearce, Carol Mitchell and Pat Gibson will be part of the independent Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank in July (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Catriona Pearce, Carol Mitchell and Pat Gibson will be part of the independent Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank in July (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Pat said: “We’ve been working really hard since then to take everything forward.”

That includes the foodbank gaining its own charitable status - something which has taken the bulk of the efforts in the last few months according to Rhona Murray, treasurer. This is, however, an important step as it looks to become a sustainable operation attracting pledges from the local community.

Rhona said: “That's our fundraising goal at the moment – to try to drum up interest in Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank for pledges of £5 a month, £10 a month from as many people as we can.”

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And the foodbank has been embracing social media in its efforts to maximise its sustainability.

This shows the food made available showing a parcel of food to feed four people (Pic: Helen Shaw/Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank)This shows the food made available showing a parcel of food to feed four people (Pic: Helen Shaw/Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank)
This shows the food made available showing a parcel of food to feed four people (Pic: Helen Shaw/Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank)

“We’ve put a couple of posts on Facebook and they have been quite good with people emailing to say ‘can you send me the standing order details?’” explained Rhona.

Whilst there are hopes that Burntisland and Kinghorn having their own independently run foodbank will attract more support from the local community, it is acknowledged that there will be challenges ahead.

Pat said: “I think certainly in a way for Burntisland and Kinghorn people, we might get more support because we’re a local foodbank now. In that sense it could be a positive thing. Obviously, money is a big issue. We need to get enough money to keep us going, that’s the main worry.”

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However, food supplies are also a concern for the foodbank with a smaller catchment area meaning reduced quantities of products required, which may have an impact on the prices it has to pay for stock. There are also challenges over the availability of donation points in the smaller area.

“Kirkcaldy has all the supermarkets, we have two Co-ops and one in Kinghorn,” explained Pat. “There are trolleys and bins in the supermarkets for donations but all the ones in Kirkcaldy are for Kirkcaldy and all the ones west of Burntisland are for Dunfermline’s foodbank, so we’re quite limited in where we can collect donations.”

Whilst collecting food donations is an important part of the process, both Pat and Rhona are keen to impress that food purchased directly from suppliers still makes up the bulk of the parcels which go out to families - something which many might not realise according to Rhona.

She said: “Certainly from my point of view, I thought previously that foodbanks ran on food donations from supermarkets and from people. I didn’t realise that the monthly pledge is one of the main things, so that’s what we’re trying to get over to people.”

Collecting donations is one thing, storing them is another.

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With the previous arrangement seeing Kirkcaldy Foodbank storing and preparing parcels, the split has meant the Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank has had to find additional premises to operate out of.

And for many in the local community, the foodbank has been a vital and understanding lifeline for them. One person who used the service highlighted the accommodating nature of the foodbank.

They explained: “You can come in and if you’ve got certain dietary requirements you can ask and they are really flexible – you can take a look at the stock in the room, and they’re really good like that. I think it helps a lot.”

The foodbank has witnessed a rise in the number of people coming in from across the spectrum, from working people to those who “just can’t afford to get by.” Pat explained: “People come in and they say ‘I never thought I’d be in this position’. We’ve had to wipe away a few tears over the years.”

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That approach is across the board with the foodbank taking a more all round approach to the services it provides, including working with Fife Council to ensure support and advice to those who use the foodbank.

Pat explained: “We like to be a bit more holistic and just give a listening ear. We’re on the system and hopefully the new foodbank will be too, so we can refer people straightaway to other agencies. If they come in and say they are in debt , we can refer them.”

If you would like to donate, you can reach Burntisland and Kinghorn Foodbank at: [email protected]

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