Food bank in south Shropshire looks into seeking charity status as demand stays high
A south Shropshire food bank is planning to become a charity to be able to apply for more money to develop its services.
Cleobury Mortimer Food Bank has seen a 60 per cent increase in use from 2021 to 2022 and co-ordinator Debbie Brown says there are signs that demand is staying at that kind of level although it is too early to tell for sure.
Councillor Brown, who also chairs the town council, said: "The main development is that we are looking to take the food bank forward as a charitable organisation.
"We were set up in 2019 by the town council and St Mary’s Church and St Elizabeth’s Church in Cleobury just before the pandemic to relieve food poverty and financial hardship in Cleobury Mortimer and the surrounding area.
"Unfortunately it looks like we are here to stay and we feel that going forward we need a more formal structure. We are looking for guidance from Shropshire Council as it will give us access to funding that we cannot access at the moment."
Councillor Brown said that the cost of living crisis and inflation means "people are struggling more than when we set up in 2019.
"We are only three months into 2023 but our figures are looking similar to last year. It could have peaked but it is too early to tell."
The Food Bank was established when it became apparent that individuals and families in need in Cleobury Mortimer and the surrounding area were having to travel to other towns such as Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Kidderminster to access a Food Bank.
Figures in the annual report show that 1,600 food parcels were handed out to adults and children in 2022, with 620 going to children.
In 2021 the total was 1,044 total food parcels, with 397 handed out to children.
It is open on Friday mornings from 9.30 to 11.30 am at Market Hall in Church Street.
Councillor Brown said they have fantastic support from the Cleobury community including Mawley Milk with a supply of fresh milk every week, Platters and Plates – who supply fresh baking potatoes, and by Doddington Heights Park who organise a weekly donation collection as a community group, which they deliver to the Hall.
Councillor Brown said: "The Doddington Heights Community have been absolutely fantastic supporters as have businesses. Cleobury is a really tight knit community."
In 2021 the Food Bank set up an Amazon wish list for items which has been very successful at www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/1KP2HB2NDZJ2F
And there are a network of food drop off points in the community, as well as a Facebook page where appeals are shared at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068718394064
The Food Bank welcomes donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, cleaning products, pet food and sanitary products.