Read our Special Report on foodbanks in Huntingdonshire
- Credit: TRUSSELL TRUST
Foodbanks in Huntingdonshire are bracing themselves for an expected rise in demand as huge hikes in the cost of living begin to bite.
For this week's Special Report, The Hunts Post spoke to the five foodbanks in the area and several said they were handing out more food compared to the same time last year.
One also told us that people were concerned about the rise in fuel costs and there were examples of people being forced to choose between eating and heating. Emergency food parcels have also been handed out in some areas.
In 2021, Godmanchester Foodbank, which is run by the Trussell Trust, fed more than 3,500 adults and children, a 30 per cent increase from 2020. A total of more than 62,000kg of food was distributed across the year.
Located at the Godmanchester Baptist Church, the food bank also ran a 'Lunch in the Bag' Easter project where 80 families were supported with a complete meal in a bag and recipe cards. The food bank utilises an electric van to help with deliveries.
Project manager for Godmanchester Foodbank, Jude Lechmere, said: "We are busy again already this year, and a lot of our people are asking for help relating to worries over the cost of fuel.
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"People are stressed and worried they can't afford their fuel bills. It becomes a real issue between heating or eating."
The foodbank has had more referrals in the last couple of weeks and is working with nurseries to provide emergency parcels for families who need support.
Jude stressed that all foodbanks, not just Godmanchester, will start to get busier, and people should try and make a donation and support the foodbank nearest to them.
At Ramsey Foodbank, volunteers expect demand for their services to go "sky high" as the year progresses and they plan to initiate schemes and measures to combat the issues.
Ramsey Foodbank is located at St Thomas A Becket Church and has been running since 2013.
The foodbank, also part of the Trussell Trust, has a newly appointed strategic development worker called Sarah Thornton, who will help identify the community's needs to provide more than just food support.
Sarah said: "We don't just want the foodbank to be a crisis point and for people to become reliant on the foodbank, but for people to be equipped and have the power to live life without it."
Research is underway to pre-empt the expected rise, but in the meantime, Sarah added that they are always desperate for donations, either at Ramsey Tesco or directly to them.
Long-life foods and toiletries are welcome, and luxuries like chocolate help make people, especially children, feel valued.
St Ives Foodbank
St Ives Foodbank is an independent food bank that started in 2013 and is run by volunteers at All Saints Parish Church.
Since the pandemic, the uptake in referrals and food parcels has increased, and between October 1 2021, and March 31 2022, more than 8200kg of food was issued to 790 people.
Monetary donations alongside food donations have enabled volunteers to buy extra food and help those with dietary requirements.
Co-ordinator Karen Clapp, said: "We are very lucky here in that it's a relatively affluent area and so we do get a lot of things donated to us, but our donations have dropped this year slightly. I think everybody is feeling the pinch, and we can completely understand that."
Karen said that the foodbank had experienced a big increase in the number of food parcels distributed this month. Nearly as many of the total food parcels distributed in March have already been distributed in April.
To find out where to donate and the specific necessities, you can visit the All Saints Parish church page online at www.stivesparishchurch.org.uk/foodbank/
St Neots Foodbank
Over at the St Neots Foodbank, the numbers of people seeking help are variable at the current time, but volunteers are starting to see an increase.
Project manager Adrienne Dunn said: "We are probably beginning to see an uptick in the number of people coming to us but numbers are variable week on week so it is difficult to see a longer term trend. Another month may show the direction of travel."
Adrienne said in terms of donations, the items in most need are jam, tinned fruit, tinned tomatoes, longlife fruit juice, microwave rice and noodles.