Wakefield food bank hands out food worth £50,000 in one year

Volunteers at St Catherine's food bank
Volunteers at St Catherine's food bank

More families across the district are relying on food banks. Volunteers said the cost of living has lead to a significant rise in the number of hard-up families.

Food banks are struggling to cope with the demand as they try to put food on the district’s poorest tables.

St Catherine’s Church food bank, in Wakefield, distributed food worth approximately £50,000 last year.

The charity, on Doncaster Road, Agbrigg, handed out 3,012 food parcels in 2014 compared to 1,822 the previous year.

With temperatures expected to plummet over the coming weeks, centre manager Lisa Grant fears people will be forced to choose between paying for their heating or food.

She said: “People are at breaking point and they are being forced to make some tough decisions.

“It has already started to get colder and we see a similar spike every year. We expect a big increase in people coming for help.”

Volunteers saw unprecedented levels of demand from families over the Christmas period, including those in full-time work.

During the week starting Monday, December 22, St Catherine’s Church handed out 64 parcels which included fresh meat, cheese and vegetables.

They also held a Christmas lunch for their emergency food store clients, which was visited by 52 adults and 22 children.

Mrs Grant said: “People are coming to us reporting the same issues such as decreases in benefits.

“We get people from all backgrounds but we are seeing more and more pensioners coming for help. We are preparing for a busy year ahead.”

The food bank at St Catherine’s opens Monday to Friday, 11am to 1pm. Call 01924 211130.

The Well Project at Haw Hill Park, Normanton, also saw a high number of people struggling to put food on the table.

Centre manager Jenny Farrall-Bird said: “It was our first Christmas so we did not have any expectations but we got quite a lot of donations.”

The food bank, which works on a referral basis, is open on Tuesday, 5pm to 7pm and Friday, 3pm to 5pm.

Mrs Farrall-Bird said: “We give out three days of food for every member of a household at the moment. This year is all about looking at the demand and seeing how we can help.”

The Resource Aid Centre, based at Christ Church, South Ossett, has also seen an increase in struggling families.

Coordinator Kathryn Coulthard said: “We gave out around 1,000 food parcels for individuals last year and around 40 parcels for families.

“We are seeing more families than ever before and even made up food bags for babies. A lot of people are struggling.”

The Salvation Army has also reported an increase in demand for food parcels, which are distributed from its centre on Vicarage Street, Wakefield.