Feed a Family: Demand for food bank services at record high across the county

Demand for food bank services is at a record high across the county, as leaders speak of the 'emotional toll' of seeing people struggle with the cost of living.

Karen Williams, manager at Shrewsbury Food Bank Plus, pictured during the Feed a Family campaign. Shropshire Food Bank Plus is a member of the Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance
Karen Williams, manager at Shrewsbury Food Bank Plus, pictured during the Feed a Family campaign. Shropshire Food Bank Plus is a member of the Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance

Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance has spoken of the huge wave of demand food banks are experiencing, as well as a decrease in donations.

Not only that, but seeing people in increasingly difficult and challenging circumstances is having an 'emotional toll' on volunteers which 'can't be understated'.

Sophie Padgett, co-ordinator of Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance, said: "Christmas is usually the busiest time of the year for food banks so we are expecting this year to be very difficult indeed.

"Not only are the logistics of helping such a large amount of people difficult, the emotional toll of seeing people in increasingly difficult circumstances also can’t be understated.

"This huge wave of demand is also teamed with concerns about what is best to provide people with over the Christmas period.

"Many people are increasingly turning down foods which will require the oven to be on for any period of time as the cost will simply be too high."

Sophie went on to say that even though communities are continuing to show 'great support' for their local food banks, everyone is feeling the pinch, and so donations are down.

Many of the food banks in the network have Facebook pages or websites where they do a weekly shout-out for items they are low on.

Data from The Trussell Trust, a charity which works to end the need for food banks, revealed more emergency food parcels were given out during the April to September period than ever before.

According to its figures, 320,000 people have been forced to turn to food banks for the first time ever.

And nearly 1.3 million food parcels were handed out by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK network over the same period – almost half a million of which went to children.

Representatives of the Trussell Trust recently delivered a letter to Downing Street calling for urgent action to end the need for emergency food.

The letter was supported by Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance, alongside 3,000 food bank staff and volunteers from across the country who signed the letter.

"We strongly believe that we do not want to see food banks become institutionalised in this country, it is not right that more and more people are having to call on their support." Sophie added.

"There will never be a substitute for a real living wage and a welfare system that keeps pace with inflation and does the job it was designed to do: keep people from falling into poverty when life throws them a difficult set of circumstances.

"We are talking about people being able to buy their essentials and to live with dignity. What could be more fundamental than that?"

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