Feed a family: Tough start to the new year predicted for many families

Charity volunteer predicts a 'tough' start to next year as surplus Christmas food tails off, leaving families in a 'very difficult' situation.

Volunteers in the Shrewsbury Food Hub depot
Volunteers in the Shrewsbury Food Hub depot

Tony Gaskin from Shrewsbury Food Hub, which collects surplus food from supermarkets and distributes it in the community, issued the warning today.

It comes as the Hub is seeing a 'significant increase' in demand for its services, as well as a 'significant reduction' in food availability.

Supermarket staff are apparently seeing less food left over in the reduced items section, which means there is less to be picked up by Food Hub volunteers.

"The volumes we are collecting has considerably reduced," Tony said. "When we talk to the stores about it, it's 'what we notice is people are snapping things up much more'."

Feed a Family:

Tony predicts that there will be a surplus of food at Christmas time– as supermarkets buy months in advance and people will buy less– but this may taper off in the New Year.

This means the start of 2023 could be a 'tough' one for vulnerable people and families.

Shrewsbury Food Hub operates through two separate channels, by distributing food to community groups, e.g. Scouts, schools for breakfast clubs, Shrewsbury Ark etc and by associating with volunteer-run food shares.

Volunteers at Shrewsbury Food Hub unloading a van

Anyone can access the food shares – operating on a 'pay as you feel basis' – which means that you don't have to prove your income or show a referral form to access this support.

But Tony has heard reports that queues are getting longer at food shares, with people arriving before it is even due to open.

He reiterated that people aren't doing this because they are bored, but because they are in serious food poverty.

Shrewsbury Food Hub has reportedly seen an increase in demand throughout the year, even in the summer, when volunteers expected it to go down.

Tony said: "We could distribute to three times our demand and there would still be people to feed.

"Surplus food is not a solution for food poverty, it's low value, it's not nutritionally complete.

"Food poverty is a political issue and it's politically created – and it needs a political solution. There's need for central political action to resolve this."

To volunteer for Shrewsbury Food Hub, donate, or to offer your support, visit shrewsburyfoodhub.org.uk/getting-food

You can find upcoming locations, dates and times for food shares here:

Food share timetable. Photo: Shrewsbury Food Hub

* The Shropshire Star’s Feed a Family campaign has been calling on people who have the capacity to support their local food banks, as the pressure of the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze families across the county.

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