ReadiFood – a brief history
Ever since FAITH Christian Group came into being as a result of Jim McConnell and friends taking food out to people on the street there have been “food parcels” as well for the very poor with a roof over their head. That goes back to the late 1980’s.
According to our records, by the mid 2000’s we were regularly delivering around 8 parcels per week. The recession of 2008 kicked off a significant increase in weekly demand to 25 by 2010, 50 by 2012 and 110 in 2014. The name “ReadiFood” came about in 2009 by what we consider to be divine inspiration in that the Director woke up one morning with the name in his head. This may well have been a subconscious connection to ReadiBus. Nevertheless the rest is history.
By 2012 Reading Borough Council had approached us to see whether they could help us meet what was evidently becoming a growing and long term food shortage problem for some residents in the town. That resulted in a regular grant being made to us.
Vehicles – see separate page
It is quite strange to think that even in 2009 we were still managing with nothing more than a Vauxhall Zafira!
We soon had to step up to a small van and then by 2017 we were offered a sponsored van by TOYOTA Jemca.
By 2020 we had had to by a second smaller van to cope with the sheer volume of collections from supermarkets and deliveries to recipients.
It is indeed strange to think that we started the food bank in nothing more than someone’s front room. In 2006 we moved to offices on London Street where again we only had a small room set aside. In 2010 we moved up the road to Silver Street and had space to install our first racking.
In November 2012 we were offered rent free our first proper warehouse on Arkwright Road. It was bliss to be able to have space to move and organise. That also coincided with the first partnership with a supermarket, Waitrose. Having weekend donation collections in stores across Greater Reading brought in a much welcome supply of food and necessitated a different approach and mind-set.
2015 saw us move to our present premises on Boulton Road, which we rent at a very favourable rate.
Inevitably over the years we have added not only dozens of volunteers but also paid staff without whom we could not ensure our service. We now (2022) have 6 staff who either part-time, or part of their time, work with ReadiFood.
It is exciting to look back on the rate of growth that we have seen. We thank God for his faithfulness in always meeting our needs whether financial, food or personnel. For all of us it is a privilege to be able to be there for residents of Greater Reading who fall on hard times.