COMMUNITY heroes Paul and Isobel Jarrett have made the decision to step down from their role as coordinators of Okehampton Foodbank after a whirlwind couple of years when demand for emergency parcels shot up three-fold during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Jarretts have been associated with the foodbank, based at the Okehampton Baptist Church for more than four years but stepped up to run it as volunteers in August 2019.

And they saw the job become a daily commitment when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

The number of food parcels they delivered to the community each week tripled, as people lost jobs or saw their hours cut.

Living in Okehampton, they made sure they were on hand to take parcels out to people who were self isolating.

More than 1,000 food parcels were delivered last year, whereas for the whole of 2019 the figure was 350 parcels.

Along with the foodbank volunteers, they have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to deliver a large number of food parcels to local families and individuals in need.

Last October they received a special award from the town’s erstwhile mayor Julie Yelland in recognition of their dedication to this work.

Thanking them for their efforts in person at the church recently, Rev Cliff Jackson, minister of Okehampton Baptist Church, praised their energy and commitment.

He said: ‘On behalf of all who have received help from the foodbank, I offer my warmest appreciation for the enthusiasm and devotion you have brought to this role.’

Paul said: ‘We’ve enjoyed our time serving the people needing food in the town and it is the right time now to hand it over to others.

‘We’ve been involved with the foodbank for four and a half years all told and then the pandemic came along and the demand went up overnight.

‘We live about three minutes’ walk away from the church so we have been right here.

‘It has been a privilege to serve those who are struggling in food poverty.

‘When we moved down this way we wanted to get involved in what was going on and it has been a privilege to do so.’

He said the demand for the foodbank was now lessening but time would tell what would happen later in the year.

‘August 20 is our last day. We gave the church three months’ notice that we were leaving because we wanted to make sure the service continues for our clients.

On average we have seen a drop in the number of cases..

The foodbank will continue to provide food to those who need it most in the days to come, with the foodbank committee working on staffing and volunteers to ensure the service continues.

The foodbank is open every Friday from 10am to 12 noon at Okehampton Baptist Church.