Shropshire Star

Shropshire food banks seeing empty shelves in unprecedented rise in demand

Food banks in Shropshire are having to cope with an unprecedented number of people asking for help while seeing a drop in donations as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

Oswestry and Borders Food Bank volunteers

Across the county, food banks are coping with huge rises in the number of meals they are providing.

And organisers say that with the April change in many monthly bills, numbers will only continue to rise.

Telford Food Bank, part of the Telford Crisis Support, said it could have to provide 250,000 meals this year, more than double the amount in 2021.

In Oswestry, its food bank says there has been a 48 per cent rise in the number of people it is helping compared to last year.

Organisers there say for the first time it its history the food bank has empty shelves.

Liz Jermy at Oswestry and Borders food bank

Manager Liz Jermy said: "In the last financial year, 22/23, Oswestry and Borders Foodbank helped 6,904 people and gave away 61 tonnes of food. In the year ending 21/22 the foodbank helped 4,660 people."

"As a result of the increase in need, the foodbank has spent over £26,000 this last financial year on food purchases alone.

"This is in addition to the donations of food coming in from all over North Shropshire, from supermarkets and their amazing customers, from churches, charities, corporates and individuals.

"This has been a necessity to keep up with the demand for our services – the shelves empty in the stock room and warehouse as fast as they are restocked. This is a first in 12 years for Oswestry and Borders Foodbank to see shelves this sparse."

Volunteer Jenny Macintosh at Oswestry and Borders food bank

Simon Lellow, from Telford Crisis Support, said the increased need was because of a compound effect of increase after increase.

In 2020 the Telford Food Bank provided 90,000 meals, in 2021 it was 121,000 and in 2022 it reached 180,000.

"We are currently providing 1,000 meals every working week," he said.

"Those who come to us have seen gas and electricity prices shoot up at the same time as staple foods stuffs.

"Winter is always an expensive time of time and now we are in April, which has seen increases in all types of bills, from rent to mobile phone costs."

Food banks across the county say that at the same time there has been a drop in donation,s as everyone tries to tighten their belts to cope with the cost of living.

They have renewed appeals for help, be that in donations of food and other products or donations in kind, particularly from businesses.

The food banks are also urging people to come forward for help early to avoid getting into deeper debt and crisis.

Many across the county are expanding their services to help those struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis and say there is much that can be done to ease financial worries.

Mr Lellow said the crisis centre's baby bank is also seeing an increase in requests for help.

"We have an increase in people who have never been affected before but are now circumstances are conspiring against them," Mr Lellow said.

"We would urge everyone who is struggling to come to use early enough and not to get deeper into problems.

"We have a number of support services that they can use. But if people wait until they are really on their knees, they build up more and more debt that is even more difficult to deal with."

Liz Jermy said the Oswestry and Borders Foodbank works alongside and liaises with over 120 other support agencies, both statutory and charitable.

"The foodbank has responded to the cost of living crisis by expanding the services they offer in the hope that one day they will not be needed at all," she said.

It opened premises next door to its headquarters in Beatrice Street to provide a dedicated space for more targeted support offered by a variety of agencies.

Liz said: "On Mondays, the walk-in free services available and open to all, are The Samaritans for a cuppa and a confidential chat and a listening service, and also Women’s Aid domestic violence support for women and men.

"On Thursdays the walk-in free services are for wellbeing and mental health support. This includes the mental health service wellbeing vehicle parked in St Oswald’s Road offering a listening service and bereavement support. Anyone can visit in number 58 or go directly to the bus in the car park. On a monthly basis, the community wellbeing outreach team are available to offer blood pressure checks. The mental health support service can offer help to register with a GP and to access further wellbeing and mental health services.

"In addition to this, the foodbank can now offer financial, benefit and welfare advice from a community advisor, which is by appointment only, for those referred into the foodbank who are not currently engaging with financial services. This service is specifically to enable households to maximise their income and, hopefully over time, reduce the need for the foodbank services."

People who can help the Oswestry and Border Food Bank or those who are seeking help can go online to

Telford food bank is available at