Calls to address causes of food poverty as Ludlow Food Bank sees highest numbers yet

Volunteers at a food bank in Shropshire have recorded their highest numbers of people helped yet in an annual report, with 803 different individuals supported in 2021.

Claire Whitehead and Lucy Lewis of Ludlow Food Bank
Claire Whitehead and Lucy Lewis of Ludlow Food Bank

The team at Ludlow Food Bank have revealed that 567 parcels were distributed last year, containing enough food to feed 1,386 people including 537 children.

The year has been an extremely busy one for the staff at the food bank who say they are grateful for the support they have received from people and businesses in the community.

Sophie Padgett, Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance (SFPA) co-ordinator, said: "Ludlow Food Bank is unfortunately not alone, many of Shropshire’s food banks have had their busiest year on record.

"The Christmas period just gone has seen many of them experience unprecedented demand, and we are sadly not anticipating this to end any time soon.

"The perfect storm of a steep rise in living costs along with the removal of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift is now starting to take effect, meaning many that were just amount managing no longer are."

There has been an increase of 145 individuals using the food bank last year – in comparison to the 2020 statistics – with single-parent families needing the largest share of food parcels.

Volunteer Lucy Lewis
Ludlow Food Bank co-ordinator Ruth Davies

In December alone, the food bank helped feed 114 children and between December 20 and 23 they had given out enough food to feed 92 people for a week.

It has also been revealed that benefit delays are the biggest reason given by people for needing a food parcel (38.3 per cent), but not being able to afford food is a close second (29.5 per cent).

Last year also saw the launch of bakery vouchers for people to use at Waltons Bakery, 7-8 Market St, Prices S C & Sons, 7 Castle Street, and Swift's Bakery, 135 Corve St.

This was introduced as an addition to the vouchers for the green grocers (farmers and The Fruit Basket), butchers (D.W. Wall & Son, Griffiths and Carters of Ludlow) and delicatessens (The Mousetrap, Harp Lane Deli, Broad Bean and Cicchetti).

"The SFPA works closely with the county’s food banks and they are increasingly telling us that food parcels are just a sticking plaster, they will never let us address the root causes of food insecurity," Sophie said.

"Food bank staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to support their community, but they are under-resourced and over-stretched.

"This is not a sustainable, or the most dignified way to support people. We believe that everyone should have the right to be able to afford enough good quality, appropriate food for themselves and their families.

"We need fair wages, secure employment contracts, support with childcare and a welfare system that is fit for purpose and prevents people from falling into poverty."

Ludlow Food Bank has extended its thanks to Ludlow Baptist Church for continuing to giving it a base, Hands Together Ludlow and the SFPA for their support.

Volunteers have also thanked volunteers, shoppers, delivery drivers, collection box emptiers, local traders who accept the vouchers, anyone who has donated, schools, churches, other organisations and local ladies who have provided quilts to go with parcels in December.

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