EMERGENCY food supplies for struggling Rugby families are running low due to an ‘unprecedented rise in demand’ – so says the manager of the town’s foodbank.
Bosses at Rugby Foodbank have had to raid the charity’s emergency coffers to top up stocks of essential food, as the anticipated summer drop in donations combined with an unexpected rise in demand.
Since the school holidays began in late July, demand at the foodbank has gone up by 35 per cent on the same period last year, and 3.3 tonnes of food has been handed out despite only 1.9 tonnes being donated.
Rugby Foodbank manager and chair Diana Mansell said she had never seen such a high rise in numbers during July and August.
She said: “Usually we see a tail-off in donations with people away on holiday, and demand usually rises slightly in the school holidays because children aren’t getting their free school meals, but we don’t normally see this kind of spike in demand.”
She said people with jobs on low incomes were being forced to turn to the foodbank, as well as people left out-of-pocket by benefit changes or delays.
“I know that the vast majority of our clients are really in a difficult situation,” she added. “I don’t know how I would cope if I was unable to feed my children if I had nothing in the bank and nothing in the cupboard. The stories that you hear from our clients are really heart-rending.”
She added that a food collection at Tesco in July, combined with residents’ responses to online appeals, should ensure that no-one is left hungry.
“We’d be horrified if it got to the stage where we had to turn people away,” she said. “I’d probably go out and buy some food out of my own pocket. It would be a sad indication of a change in the climate in the town, but I don’t think it will happen.
“But if donations stay low, I’ll probably have to go out and buy some more in a couple of weeks to get us through to harvest festival, when we anticipate most of the schools and churches in the town will hold collections for us.
“We’re incredibly grateful for all the support we’ve been given over the last three and a half years, and we know it makes a huge difference to all of our clients.
“They are amazed at the generosity of the people who might be in their street or at their school gates, helping an ‘unknown friend’ in this way.”
National foodbank charity Trussel Trust pointed to research by released by Kellogg’s this month which found a third of parents have skipped a meal so that their kids could eat during the school holidays, due to the absence of free school meals and increased childcare costs.
And the Child Poverty Action Group has released a report stating families with both parents working full-time on the minimum wage are £75.75 a week short of affording a minimum standard of living.
As well as appealing for food donations, Rugby Foodbank is looking for shops or businesses willing to host a food collection point.
For up-to-date lists of urgently needed food, information about where donations can be left, and to contact the foodbank about possible collection points, visit www.rugby.foodbank.org.uk or search Facebook and Twitter for ‘Rugby Foodbank’.