A food bank in Aylesbury Vale, Buckingham Free Meals (BFM), has found itself embroiled in controversy as it defends its decision to retain £8,000 in funds amid allegations of a “lack of transparency” from donors.
Established in 2020 by a 14-year-old boy, BFM was praised by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford for its efforts in aiding families during the pandemic. However, recent claims in an open letter and on social media have raised concerns over the handling of finances, with residents questioning why donated funds were not being fully allocated to the intended cause, the Buckingham Food Bank.
The dispute intensified when BFM announced its inability to continue meal services due to the absence of a permanent location and volunteers returning to work. In response, the organisation initiated a standing order to allocate £500 monthly to Buckingham Food Bank, aiming to support the purchase of meat vouchers and prepaid Tesco cards for fresh produce.
BFM’s management asserts that detailed financial records have been diligently maintained and invites collaboration with other organisations combating food poverty. However, the situation has taken a toll on the organisation’s founder, now 17, and his mother, who have faced online abuse. Councillor Robina Ahmed, defending BFM and her son, expressed dismay at the attacks and emphasized that funds were never held in personal accounts.
Despite the controversy, BFM remains steadfast in its mission to provide hot meals and food donations to those in need within the local community. At its peak, the organisation served up to 350 hot meals weekly to over 150 families. However, amidst the turmoil, the organisation is committed to navigating the challenges and continuing its efforts to alleviate food insecurity in the region.