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Demand for Leeds foodbanks on the increase

East Leeds Foodbank volunteers Kevin Grundey and David Kirby get food ready for dispatch

East Leeds Foodbank volunteers Kevin Grundey and David Kirby get food ready for dispatch

As the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Feed A Family campaign gathers pace, Laura Bowyer reports from East Leeds Foodbank.

They have only been open for a matter of weeks.

But the two foodbanks in east Leeds are already starting to see a rise in demand from people who are finding themselves struggling to make ends meet.

And the coordinators of East Leeds Foodbank are already drawing up plans to open a further three facilities by the end of the year.

The two current foodbanks serve Gipton and Seacroft but they are hoping to expand into Garforth, Lincoln Green and Harehills to support even more desperate families.

And volunteers are preparing themselves for an increase in demand as families struggle to feed their children over the summer holidays - especially those who rely on free school meals.

Often these are a child’s main meal but parents will be forced to find three meals a day to stop youngsters from going to bed hungry.

And for some families this can be enough to tip them into financial despair.

Leeds East Foodbank coordinator Rosie Cook said: “Some children will not probably get their main meal of the day.

“If your children are at home that is an added pressure because that will mean having to provide six weeks of three meals a day.

“Many parents sacrifice all sorts of things for the needs of their children.

“All foodbanks are certainly preparing for a summer holiday surge.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post has launched its Feed A Family campaign last week to help families who are feeling the financial strains of summer.

Nearly 20 double-decker buses worth of food have been distributed to help feed the city since September.

However, not a single one of the city’s four Trussell Trust foodbanks has before been open during the summer holidays.

They have already reported a huge increase in the number of people who turned to them for support during the Easter holidays which lasted for just two weeks.

And there are fears more families will be forced to turn to them as they struggle to put food on their tables during the six week break from school.

Leeds West Foodbank is looking to find an extra NINE TONNES of food over the next three months just to cope with the increase in demand.

We are calling on readers to pledge their support and buy items off our special shopping list over the next six weeks.

Special collection points will be available to drop food off around the city to support foodbanks in north, east, south and west Leeds.

Rosie said that every day East Leeds Foodbank is seeing new voucher holders turn to them in desperation.

She said: “It is a difficult decision that many of these families make because for them it is shameful to turn to a foodbank.

“Sometimes they are desperate.

“For many people it is not something that is talked about.

“We see people who are in work and sometimes it is just as simple as a huge telephone bill.

“It could also be a broken down car because the costs to repair the car means there will be no food in their cupboard.

“One big bill might knock them off the radar completely.

“It won’t be long before we are feeding thousands of people and that is quite scary.

“That is why we rely on donations.”

There are currently five tonnes of food in their special distribution centre tucked away inside Oxford Place Methodist Church.

But they need at least three tonnes as a permanent 
baseline to keep up with demand.

Volunteer David Kirby spends two hours every Thursday helping to go through the stock and check the sell-by dates on products.

He said: “All sorts of people can struggle and find themselves in difficulties.

“One minute they have 
got a good job and then next 
they have been made 
redundant.

Margaret Kirby, who helps to weigh the food in and out of the premises, added: “People don’t always like admitting that they need help.

“Often people go to other foodbanks in different areas because they don’t want to be seen going there.

“Hopefully one day foodbanks won’t be needed.”

 

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