Food bank’s desperate plea as demand for help triples

Angela Jones Volunteer Co-ordinator. Picture Scott Merrylees
Angela Jones Volunteer Co-ordinator. Picture Scott Merrylees

A food bank has issued a desperate plea for donations as they face unprecedented demand for help from struggling families and individuals.

St Catherine’s Church Centre, on Doncaster Road, has operated a food bank since 2012, providing emergency food parcels to families.

Help: Angela Jones, Lisa Grant and Max Troisi at St Catherine's.

Help: Angela Jones, Lisa Grant and Max Troisi at St Catherine's.

Last year, the food bank issued 5,887 food parcels - an average of 113 a week, and more than three times as many as were handed out in 2013.

Centre manager Lisa Grant said: “The issue is that people are relying on the food for longer period of time.

“We’re seeing more and more people who are experiencing delays with benefits, or just the general cost of living.

“Once they’ve paid their bills, they’ve got no money for food.

Once they’ve paid their bills they’ve got no money for food.

Lisa Grant

The centre reported a rise in demand in November, when Universal Credit began rolling out across the district.

The new system, which roles six benefits into one monthly payment, has been widely criticised, and left many families waiting more than five weeks for their first payment.

Max Troisi, who works at the centre, said: “It’s had a massive effect, we’re talking about 50 or 60 people a day that we’re feeding.

“We’re really struggling, and there’s still nine months until the end of the year.”

And while demand for food continues to grow, with 60 per cent more food packages given out in 2018 than the previous year, Lisa says the centre is also struggling financially.

“People don’t understand that it costs money to run the food bank,” she said. “We’re mostly run by volunteers, but we do have some paid staff.

“There’s the costs of running out vehicles to pick up food, the fuel and paying the drivers.

“We would really appreciate it if businesses might consider sponsoring our food bank, or donations financially.”

The centre is asking for donations of tinned spaghetti, tins of meat and fish, packets of noodles, cup a soups and bottles of UHT milk.

Donations can be made directly to the church centre, or via a number of donation points, including the Co-Op store at Meadow Vale, Outwood, and Sainsbury’s, on Ings Road.

Contact St Catherine’s Church Centre on 01924 211130 to help or make a donation.

Demand rising across the UK

National food bank network The Trussell Trust say that demand for support has risen across the UK.

In 2018, the Trust issued more than 1.3 million emergency food parcels.

Referral to food banks was at an all time high, with low income, benefit delays and benefit changes accounting for 69 per cent of referrals.

Emma Revie, the Trust’s chief executive, said that the Universal Credit system is leaving families “trapped in poverty”.

She said: “The Government needs to put money back into the pockets of people who have lost the most to austerity. Ending poverty and hunger in the UK shouldn’t be sidelined – the time to act is now.”