An increasing number of people in St Neots are relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and their families.

The graph shows the widening gap between donations and demandThe graph shows the widening gap between donations and demand

Latest figures show that currently this increase in demand is "outstripping collections" and volunteers are appealing to the public to support them.

An all-day collection held at the Tesco store, in Barford Road, on June 7 collected 654kg of food, plus £32.97, but the volunteers need even more food to fill 100 hampers for families.

"As always we are grateful to St Neots shoppers for so generously giving the food bank their support," said Keith Woodward.

"In general, we are experiencing an increasing demand for food and are currently giving out significantly more food per month than we are collecting."

A list of items currently needed for the foodbankA list of items currently needed for the foodbank

Figures comparing donations versus collections from January to May 2018 showed the foodbank fulfilled 260 vouchers (given to people in need by health, educational and social care professionals) and fed 560 people.

In 2019, for the same period, it was 375 vouchers and 805 people were fed.

In 2018 (Jan-May) the foodbank received 5,719 kilos of food and donated 6,828. During the same period this year, figures show donations increased to 6,921 and food supplied to 8,728. So while the amount of food being donated is rising it is still not keeping pace with demand.

"The good news is that people are continuing to support the foodbank and giving us more food, but due to demand, the gap between what we are getting in and giving out is widening," said project manager Adrienne Dunn.

"In May, we took in 1,150 kilos of food and gave out 1,800 kilos. If this trend continues we could run into trouble."

Adreine believes the reasons behind the increase are complex, but said: "It is difficult to pinpoint exactly and some information has come through to suggest that delays in universal credit have had some impact, but we think the rising cost of living plays a big part, and also low pay.

"We see people who are working incredibly hard, but they are still struggling to pay the bills and feed themselves."

The foodbank is appealing to the public to provide items for its summer food parcels, which are given to families with school age children to support them through the summer holiday period.

This can be a difficult time, especially for those families who have been receiving a free school meal, which could have been the child's main meal of the day. The plan is to give out 100 summer hampers to families.

Recent initiatives include an arrangement with Wood Green Animal Shelter which has been set up to provide some foodbank users with pet food, flea and worming treatment and other equipment and advice.

Foodbanks partner with a wide range of care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and police to identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher. This voucher can then be redeemed at on of the foodbanks which are held in Eaton Socon, Eaton Ford and Eynesbury.

How You Can You Help

There are collection points to donate food in supermarkets, including Tesco and Waitrose in St Neots.

The advice from the foodbank is to check which items are most urgently needed and details can be found on the foodbank website at: www.stneots.foodbank.org.uk.

If you are a business, you can set up a short-term collection point at your place of work and encourage employees to bring in food.

Foodbank volunteers will drop off a list of the required items and also the crates to store the food and then collect the crate at a later date, which is usually after a period of two weeks.

* Foodbank volunteers have increased their social media presence and using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the message and encourage more people to support them and keep up to date with the latest news.

* The foodbank also needs to raise cash to provide emergency items and make up hampers if they are running short of food items.

* Some shops have offered to set up short-term collections and others have set up a permanent dropbox in their stores.

* INFO: If you would like to make a donation to ensure the foodbank can purchase any shortfall items, details of how to donate or set up a regular standing order are on the website at: www.stneots.foodbank.org.uk.

* If you would like to set up a short term collection point or join the foodbank responders e-mail: : info@stneots.foodbank.org.uk.