Demand for food bank parcels soars in St Ives

11:09 26 March 2014

St Ives Harvest Festival Foodbank, at All Saints Parish Church, (front l-r) Kathy Amey, Carol Dennis, (back l-r) Hannah Johnsons, Maddison Johnson, Rita Fearing, Barry Wills, Gary Evans, and Rev Mark Amey

St Ives Harvest Festival Foodbank, at All Saints Parish Church, (front l-r) Kathy Amey, Carol Dennis, (back l-r) Hannah Johnsons, Maddison Johnson, Rita Fearing, Barry Wills, Gary Evans, and Rev Mark Amey

Archant

More than two tonnes of food has been given to more than 170 people in just five months by St Ives Food Bank.

Set up in October last year, the organisation is already in need of supplies to ensure it can continue to support individuals and families in need of some help.

The Food Bank, which is supported by Churches Together in St Ives, has arranged collection days this weekend to replenish its stocks which it had believed would last for two years.

Father Mark Amey, of All Saints Church which hosts the food bank, said the demand for the parcels, which contain three days’ worth of food, had taken him by surprise.

“What has also been really surprising to me are the categories of people who are coming in,” he said. “Some of the people are in work – on zero hour contracts – and others who had been working in retail and hospitality and were left without jobs post Christmas.

“There are also people whose pay changed from weekly to monthly and they needed help to tide them over.”

He added: “There’s a growing demand. I think in the first two months after setting up the food bank we used a third of a tonne of food. Since Christmas we’ve used a tonne and a third. When we first got our stock of food we thought it was last two years.”

People who need help from the food bank have to be recommended by a recognised agency such as the benefits offices, CAB or a doctors’ surgery.

The parcels are designed to fill a gap, giving people time to sort out benefits and search for work.

“There’s a wide age range of people we see,” Father Mark continued. “It can be people in their late teens who are struggling to get on their feet but we also get people who are being treated at the Woodlands Cancer Centre, some who are grandparents and some who do not have sick pay.”

He added the food bank had turned out to be a lot more work than anticipated but said “he wouldn’t want to be without it as it means so much to so many people”.

INFORMATION: You can make a food donation to the St Ives Food Bank at Waitrose, St Ives, this Friday and Saturday. Donations need to be specific basic foodstuffs – nothing exotic – which can be easily stored. Lists of items will be available at Waitrose and can also be viewed at www.stivesparishchurch.org.uk/foodbank.

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