Cost of living crisis: Shropshire food bank reveals what sort of people are using their service

The Newport (Shropshire) Food Bank was founded in 2013 by members of Newport Christian Fellowship and has been there to help people in the town ever since.

Volunteers at Newport (Shropshire) food bank, which is open to all sectors of the community
Volunteers at Newport (Shropshire) food bank, which is open to all sectors of the community

Entirely run by volunteers and with support from the community, during lock down they supplied over 11,500 breakfasts to families on a low income.

It was an unwanted high in terms of numbers for the food bank, which opens its doors on Friday mornings at the Navy club, Bellmans Yard 9:30am -11:30am.

But it proved the value of the service, which is open to all sectors of the community, families or individuals, young or elderly who are in need whether on a temporary basis or long term.

The Shropshire Star is highlighting the work of food banks and related organisations all week as part of its Feed a Family Campaign.

We normally ask for donations to help food banks at Christmas, when demand rises and stocks start to fall.

But many collection points told the Shropshire Star they are already starting to struggle, even though we are still enjoying the August bank holiday.

Gillian Partridge, who has been a member of Newport Christian Fellowship for 30 years but has volunteered at the food bank since May this year said they were getting a lot of short term referrals including those based around people not being able to work.

She said: "That is one thing I have noticed, there has been quite a few people who are long term sick, unable to work or waiting for operations on the NHS. Some who are employed don't get sick pay so they come to us in the short term to help meet their need.

"It is a shame in some ways it has to come to this but the food bank is there for all sectors of society and we see people referred here for many different reasons.

"The work has been rewarding but sometimes gives you a reality check in that the people who use the service are many and varied and often their needs are differ in terms of numbers and of length but the good thing is there is an organisation in the town that can help.

"I remember when the food bank was set up there was a lot of scepticism around it but that has pretty much gone now, especially during lock down when the need was even greater although now we are seeing it increasing again with the impending cost of living crisis."

The Newport (Shropshire) food bank is open at the Royal Navy club, Bellmans Yard TF10 7AJ on Fridays between 9:30am -11:30am. Donations can be made at Waitrose, Audley Rd; Nationwide Building Society, 29-31 High Street; Lidl Supermarket, Audley Avenue; Samuels Of Shropshire Cleaners, 6 High Street.

In support of the Breakfast parcels project by Telford and Wrekin Council, the Newport (Shropshire) Food bank team delivered 1,645 breakfast parcels (11,515 breakfasts) to families with school age children during – 27th October 2020 – 15th April 2021.

In general, those in receipt of weekly parcels were the same families, between 70-80 children per week living in the town of Newport and surrounding villages. Initially parents collected their parcel from the Newport Food bank but when lockdown restrictions were in place the team of volunteers delivered parcels weekly to home addresses.

Telford & Wrekin Council gave a donation for UHT milk and cereal and the food bank supplemented it with bread, eggs, baked beans and a rotation of jam, margarine, fruit and a spread.

Supported by generous local donations, the team of volunteers were also able to offer extra food support with a large Xmas food hamper, easter eggs and Mothers’ day treat.

During the pandemic, the team had worked with schools to promote that anyone entitled to free school meals would be entitled to the breakfast parcels. As the scheme came to an end, the team were keen to understand the impact and potential ongoing need for family food support.

A short survey was sent out to all families who had been in receipt of breakfast parcels. The response rate was 70%

Summary of Responses

93% of respondents used everything or nearly all the food that was given to them.

Without the breakfast parcels only 17% of respondents said that they would have had enough food.

83% would have never, rarely, or sometimes had enough food were it not for the breakfast parcels.

57% of respondents say that they find it difficult to feed kids in the school holidays in comparison to 20% when faced with a change in household income.

Only 10% of respondents’ children eat breakfast at school.

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