God’s hand in the midst of a pandemic – I am so in awe when I take a moment out to pause and reflect on God’s presence.
In 2017, The Cooperative food stores started a scheme where 5% of your spend went back to the customer and 1% went to a local charity. The local Coop, on London Road, nominated Communicare and Coffee and Craft as their local charities and we received 6 months of support; in return we had a stall in 5 stores and got to know the managers and staff.
After the funding period had ended, Martin Jex, the manager at Thames Valley Park Coop, asked if, through the existing Coffee and Craft relationship, I would be a trial partner for a Foodshare concept they were looking at. As a single parent, I was aware when money is tight, it is the fresh vegetables and fruit that go, and you bulk buy pasta and bread. By doing the trial, with the support of the Coffee and Craft committee, we would not only be helping other people in the community in a similar position to me but also reducing food waste, so doing a bit for the environment.
We agreed to a 6 week trial period from September 2017, and as a result of this success I was offered a job in November 2017 as the local community worker for 5 Coop stores. In May 2018, due to its successful trial, Foodshare launched nationally, and my job remit was amended to include linking each store within Reading to a church or community centre to offer the initiative. This was successfully done by the time I left the Coop in October 2019.
March 2020: coronavirus has caused a lockdown and all the local churches which had signed up to Foodshare were in a position to step up, increase their capacity and collect from additional stores because they had spent the previous 2 years building a strong relationship with local stores, managers and staff.
God prepared the way for all of this, so when we needed Foodshare to serve our communities, through this exceedingly difficult time, it was already established, resourced and trusted.
Kathryn Burgoyne Deacon
22nd April 2020
Praise God for his goodness!