Meet the African Food Pantry donating to struggling families

Volunteers at the African Food Pantry including founder Funmi Akinriboya

Volunteers at the African Food Pantry including founder Funmi Akinriboya, left - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

An Ipswich foodbank is going the extra mile to ensure families from places such as Africa, the Caribbean and Portugal are able to cook traditional foods for dinner.

Funmi Akinriboya founded the African Food Pantry alongside the BME Suffolk Support Group, as well as working a part-time job to support her family of three children.

The mum had found that while foodbanks were offering supplies families needed, she wanted to provide the black and ethnic minority communities with traditional foods from their own cultures.

The foodbank is run entirely by volunteers

The foodbank is run entirely by volunteers - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

"We saw a massive increase in demand at the beginning of this lockdown," she said.

"In January alone, we provided for 40 families, which included 79 adults and 52 children.

"A lot of our referrals are African, Caribbean and Portuguese families, as well as working with the homeless.

"We spend more money than other foodbanks because we spend some of it on traditional food from continental shops, so it costs a lot more than just going to the supermarket.

"We want families to be able to sit down at the end of the day and cook a healthy meal together."

The African Food Pantry collects supplies from supermarkets as well as traditional food from continental shops

The African Food Pantry collects supplies from supermarkets as well as traditional food from continental shops - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

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Here are some of the traditional foods the pantry looks for:

  • Gari (cassava flour)
  • Yellow and green plantain
  • Cassava
  • Yam
  • African noodles
  • Black eye peas
  • Honey beans
  • Lentils
  • Yam flour
  • Maize flour
  • Semolina
  • Crushed chilli pepper
  • Okro
  • Egusi (melon seeds)

Before lockdown, the foodbank was helping between six and seven people every week.

However, once the third national lockdown came into effect, this rose to 15 people.

Miss Akinriboya said the charity is struggling not only for donations but also volunteers., It only has one driver at the moment and has to deliver some supplies on foot.

"We put flyers out a while ago and got an amazing response," she added.

"I was really proud and we had about 10 people get in touch to offer their services.

"But honestly, we need more donations, more volunteers, more supplies - anything that can be spared.

"A lot of BME people are isolating or shielding and many have no recourse to funds such as Universal Credit to help them get by as they are on visas."

Donations, supplies and volunteers are all welcome at the African Food Pantry

Donations, supplies and volunteers are all welcome at the African Food Pantry - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

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