'Shocking' rise in food bank users

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 April 2014

Weston Foodbank.

Weston Foodbank.

Archant

THE number of families using Weston's food bank has almost doubled in the past year, with more than 1,200 children among those requiring emergency food.

In total, 3,999 people used Weston Foodbank in the past 12 months, up from 2,050 in the same period last year – and in January managers were unsure they would have enough to cope with demand.

The number of children who have been supplied with emergency food has increased from 709 to 1,287.

In Weston, around 5.23 per cent of the population has used a food bank, compared to 4.89 per cent in Bridgwater, 4.69 per cent in Taunton and 4.09 in Bath.

The figures were collected by the Trussell Trust, which helps operate 420 banks across the country, including Weston’s.

Weston Foodbank project manager Sarah Fraser said: “Last year we saw a significant increase of people receiving food from the Weston bank.

“The main reasons for this were due to the changes made to sanctions of the benefit system and people being given either low or zero hour contracts.

“Up until January of this year the food bank became so busy we were unsure whether we would have enough food to feed everybody.

“However, thanks to the generosity of the community, everybody who has been sent to the food bank has been able to receive the three days’ worth of crisis food.”

Last year, people from Weston donated more than 45 tonnes of food and 100 people volunteered.

Trussell Trust chairman Chris Mould said: “It is shocking that we’re seeing rising numbers of people need to turn to food banks in 21st century Britain.

“But perhaps most worrying of all is that Trussell Trust food bank figures are just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty.

“It doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no food bank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping.”

If you would like to donate to Weston Foodbank, call 01934 708906 or visit www.westonsupermare.foodbank.org.uk

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