The number of people needing square meals from a Doncaster food bank has almost tripled in three months, according to shocking figures.
Despite some economists saying the cost of living crisis is over, more than 2,000 adults and children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Doncaster foodbank in the last seven months. In January the figure was less than 750 and the steep rise is ‘quite sobering’, says the Bishop of Doncaster.
Since Doncaster foodbank set up shop at Christ Church, Thorne Road, the weight of food given out has reached 16,500kg – representing 18,000 meals provided, as each parcel has nine meals. Of 2,000 people given three days’ emergency food, 540 were children.
As well as providing emergency food, Doncaster foodbank provides essentials like nappies and hygiene products to families who are at breaking point, as well as signposting them to other services in the area.
Static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare are significant drivers of the increased demand.
More than 50 per cent of referrals to foodbanks in 2013-14 were a result of benefit delays or changes.
Mark Snelson, the Doncaster foodbank manager, said: “We’re seeing growing numbers turning to the foodbank at Christ Church for help, which shouldn’t be happening in the seventh- richest country in the world.
“But the reality is that life is very difficult for people on low incomes at the moment, and increasing numbers are struggling to make ends meet.
“We don’t think anyone should have to go hungry, which is why we’re so grateful for the incredible generosity of local people in donating food, funds and time to prevent local hunger.
“Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis. Thanks to the generosity of the Doncaster public, supply of food is just about keeping pace with demand - although we find that we often run short of tinned tuna, tinned meat, tinned veg, tinned fruit.”
Doncaster foodbank works with other agencies to provide additional services such as welfare advice, budgeting help and debt support.
The Rt Rev Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster, said: “This week, and every week, there are people in our town going hungry, struggling to put food on the table or provide the basic necessities that many of us take for granted.”
Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton said: “There are people all over Doncaster who have had to turn to food banks because they simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet.”