Yorkshire Evening Post readers have shown their caring side by rising to the challenge of stopping needy families in Leeds going hungry this summer.
Shopping centres and supermarkets across the city are already pledging their support to help vulnerable families put food on the tables for their children.
Thousands of hard-pressed residents have been forced to turn to their local foodbank for emergency food parcels because their cupboards were bare.
Nearly 20 double-decker buses worth of food have been distributed to help feed some of the city’s most vulnerable residents since September.
However, this will be the first summer holiday period that the city’s four Trussell Trust foodbanks have been operational.
And they are preparing emergency food parcels to help make sure that children do not go to bed hungry this summer.
There are fears that family finances will be pushed to breaking point for parents – especially for those whose children receive free school meals or attend breakfast clubs.
Asda superstore, which is based at the Owlcotes Centre in Pudsey, have agreed to install special collection points at checkouts over the next six weeks to back the YEP’s Feed A Family campaign.
Leeds West foodbank, which operates in neighbouring Farsley, needs to find nearly NINE TONNES of food over the next three months to help cope with the demand.
However, there are fears more families will be forced to turn to the city’s network of foodbanks as they struggle to put food on their tables during the six week break from school.
Coordinators have already reported a huge increase in the number of people who have turned to them for support during the Easter holidays which lasted for just two weeks.
And earlier this week we revealed that parents across the city are going hungry just to make sure their children can eat.
The supermarket hopes their efforts, which also includes a recent collection from shoppers, will help dedicated volunteers at the foodbank to continue supporting families and children this summer.
Store manager Neil Fairclough said: “Asda Pudsey supports a number of different local causes however, the YEP’s Feed A Family campaign is one we will be working really hard to drive awareness to all of our customers.
“We will be doing this by providing a support trolley at the back of the checkouts so that customers can donate to the cause easily and hassle free.
“We will continue to do this for the six weeks of the school summer holidays.
“We will also work with the Leeds West Foodbank through monthly events.”
Today the YEP is calling on even more readers to pledge their support and buy items of our special shopping list over the next six weeks.
We want to find out how you are helping to support our campaign - even if it is just something as simple as donating an extra tin of food during your weekly shopping trip.
We are also throwing down the gauntlet to businesses, charities and organisations across Leeds to hold their own food collections to support our campaign.
They can even donate money to individual foodbanks to help them pay for their accommodation where food is stored and distributed to some of our city’s most vulnerable residents.
The St John’s Centre, which is based in Leeds city centre, has also answered our pleas for help.
Office staff and retailers at the centre are being encouraged to collect food supplies for the campaign.
A spokeswoman from the centre said: “The YEP’s Feed a Family campaign is an excellent idea. You don’t realise how much these families are actually struggling and parents should not be going without food.
“We are really looking forward to getting involved and to help make a difference.”
Leeds Community Foundation is also backing our drive to help feed families this summer.
The Foundation’s newly-appointed chairman Martin Allison played a catalytic role in helping to bring foodbanks to the city.
Mr Allison, who was at the time one of the Foundation’s 100 Club members, was involved in early discussions with the Trussell Trust, a national charity involved in promoting the roll-out of foodbanks throughout the country.
He attended a presentation by the Trust and set up meetings with businesses and community leaders to help establish the foodbanks in Leeds. Mr Allison said: “When I saw the success of the Trussell Trust model, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for Leeds to introduce foodbanks to support local residents.
“They provide a vital service, not only distributing healthy meals but also helping to listen and identify other issues, thereby they can assist people in sourcing the extra help they may need.
“It is great that the YEP is supporting local foodbanks in helping them increase the much needed donations of food.”
There are currently 12 foodbanks across the city and there are plans to open a further seven in Leeds.
Coordinators are looking to establish new sites for emergency food provision in Farnley, Rothwell Beeston, Cottingley, Burley and Woodhouse.
A new foodbank in Horsforth will be officially opened today.
Rachel Reeves, Leeds West MP and shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, is also supporting the campaign.
She recently helped members of Leeds West Foodbank by volunteering during a supermarket collection to help them boost their stock. She said: “The reality is the summer can be a difficult time for some families with children who are not at school.
“Child care needs to be found and for parents who get free school meals an extra meal a day has to be provided.
“That can be something that puts financial strain on some people.
“We are encouraging people to donate something this summer to their local foodbank and that is why I am supporting the YEP’s campaign.
“It is all about feeding families over the summer period, which is a time that many of us are going on holiday and looking forward to the summer. But for some families it actually can be a very difficult time.”
The MP said there is a growing need for demand in her constituency.
She added: “There is in fact a need and a growing need in my area.
“I saw a woman last week who works incredibly hard but because of a problem with tax credits she is struggling.
“It is people in work on low pay, those who have lost their jobs or if an unexpected bill comes through.
“There is a lot of demand in the local area for the foodbanks.
“It is very sad but you can do something about it by donating to your local foodbanks.”
The Trussell Trust foodbanks handed out emergency food to 133,539 people, including 47,639 children, across the country between July and August last year.
And the charity is expecting that figure to soar this summer for parents who could find their family finances stretched over the next two months.
Chris Mould, Trussell Trust chairman, said: “As school summer holidays approach, many of the UK’s poorest parents are deeply concerned about being able to feed their children over the long break.
“Whilst the economy is showing signs of recovery, times are still very tough for families on the breadline and school holidays are particularly difficult as family finances can be stretched to breaking point in order to provide basic food for their children.”
COLLECTIONS TO SUPPORT FOODBANKS
East Leeds: Food donations can be made at Oxford Place Methodist Centre, Oxford Place, Leeds, on Mon and Thur 2pm-4pm.
North Leeds: Food donations can be made at Moor Allerton Methodist Church, Alderton Rise, on Mon, Wed and Fri from 11am to 1pm or Lister Hill Baptist Church, Horsforth, 2-4pm on Wed and Fri and 10am to noon on Sat.
South Leeds: Food donations can be made at Middleton Methodist Church on Wed from 9.30am to 4pm.
West Leeds: Food donations can be made to 13 Redlane Mill, Farsley on Tue from 10am to 4pm and Tesco, in Bramley Shopping Centre, has a permanent collection point.
Milk (UHT or powdered)
Fruit juice (carton)
Sponge Pudding (tinned)
Rice Pudding (tinned)
Tea bags/instant coffee
Instant Mashed potato