The Milton Keynes Food Bank has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Food Bank relies on volunteers to collect and sorts food items donated by local companies and the public, then distribute them to local people in need of assistance throughout Milton Keynes and surrounding areas.
Fola Komolafe, chair of Into The Community board of trustees that oversees the Milton Keynes Food Bank, accepted the Award from Alexander Boswell, Lord Lieutenant of Buckingham.
Commemorative badges were given to all 65 of the regular volunteers of the Milton Keynes Food Bank, as well as to local corporate supporters, including Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, Santander UK, John Lewis PLC and Milton Keynes Tesco.
Also present at the ceremony was Stephen Hobbs, Bard of Stony Stratford, who delighted guests including the Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Martin Petchey, council dignitaries including chief executive Carole Mills and local parish council representatives, with a poem specially written for the occasion.
More than 80 guests attended the ceremony at Milton Keynes Christian Centre in Oldbrook, with refreshments and canapés supplied by Spencer Ollington, who is the current Chef of the Year 2016 for Milton Keynes with his business Eat With Spencer.
Marking the occasion, Alexander Boswell, Lord Lieutenant of Buckingham, said: “The Award was created by The Queen in 2002 to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, recognising excellence in voluntary activities carried out by groups in the community – the equivalent to an MBE.
“The Milton Keynes Food Bank is a very worthy recipient of this Award, not only for the tireless work done to aid people in crisis in Milton Keynes, but also for the good work they do to support other Food Banks, including Luton and Leicester, by sharing best practice.”
Fola Komolafe added: “I am delighted that the Milton Keynes Food Bank has been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
“This is a real testament to the team, made up of less than a handful of staff and a significant number of volunteers. Without their hard work and dedication, we wouldn’t be able to help as many Milton Keynes citizens as we do.”
Summing up the occasion, John Marshall, Project Manager and arguably ‘face’ of the Milton Keynes Food Bank, concluded: “Hunger is not just a third world problem. Even in our prosperous new city of Milton Keynes, there are many people living on the edge of poverty.
“It is thanks to our amazing volunteers for their relentless efforts, tireless enthusiasm, and ongoing kindness that we are able to offer the service that we do. It is sad than in today’s society, with all of its excesses, that there is the need to have a Food Bank, but my colleague Caitlin Hands and I are very proud to oversee a team of such selfless volunteers and loyal corporate supporters that all come together to support the local community.”
Milton Keynes Food Bank is an independent Food Bank established in 2004. With just three paid staff members, the Milton Keynes Food Bank relies on a team of more than 70 volunteers, with strong support from corporate volunteer teams. They rely on donations of food, toiletries, money and clothing to serve up to 6,000 local people a year.
In 2016, 12,500 food parcels were distributed.