MORE than 10,000 meals have been handed out to vulnerable people in west Leeds who are struggling to make ends meet.
But to keep up with the growing pressure volunteers at west Leeds foodbank need at least NINE TONNES of food to cope with the demand over the next three months.
The increased pressure on emergency provisions means they need to find the equivalent of three double-decker buses filled with food to carry on supporting those who are struggling to put food on their tables.
And despite running sessions in Bramley and Farsley the foodbank looks set to open up further provision in Farnley.
Foodbank co-ordinator Lucy Pitkin said residents from Farnley are walking to Bramley just to make sure they don’t go to bed hungry.
And she warned even one big bill could be enough to plunge low-income families into the red and desperate for food. She said: “It’s quite cut off and we are even seeing people from Farnley walk to Bramley for help.
“I just can’t believe how crazy the demand has been.
“We opened in Bramley in April and the food is just going out faster than it is coming in. Our stock is slowly depleting.”
The foodbank needs to run at a base level of around five tonnes of food but just last week it had just under two tonnes. Since they opened in January in LS28, LS13 and LS12 more than 1,000 people have received emergency food packages.
They have distributed almost 10 tonnes of food and volunteers worry demand will rise especially as the summer holidays start to impact on hard-pressed families. Lucy said: “The demand will soar and we are bracing ourselves that the demand will particularly increase in Bramley and Farsley.
“Free school meals will have a massive impact and we saw that in the Easter holidays. We had a 50 per cent increase for those two weeks.
“Over the summer a lot of families who rely on free school meals and breakfast clubs are now going to have to provide these meals at home.
“People’s food bills will be going up.
“These are ordinary people who are working, perhaps on low income, and they find themselves in a situation where they just don’t have enough food to eat.”
And she warned that anybody could be forced to turn to a foodbank to help them support their families.
Lucy said: “We see a lot of people who are working on low wages and a lot of young families with two or three children who are paying for childcare and working as well.
“When a crisis hits and an extra bill comes in they really just can’t afford to make ends meet.
“A lot of people are on zero hour contracts with no job security at all. People don’t know what work they have got from one week to the next.”
Yesterday the YEP revealed 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.
The YEP has launched its Feed A Family campaign to help our city’s families feed their children this summer.
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 around the city to support foodbanks in north, east, south and west Leeds.
Businesses, charities and organisations across Leeds can also hold their own food collections or donate money to individual foodbanks .
Volunteers already dedicate their spare time to help feed families in west Leeds but the foodbank said it needs a further 100 volunteers to support supermarket collections and help run the new foodbank which opens next month. Lucy, who is supporting the YEP’s Feed A Family campaign, added: “This is about the community helping other people in the community. It shows that the city of Leeds cares about people who are struggling.”
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 or Farsley Community Church on Fri from 5pm to 7pm.
Milk (UHT or powdered)
Fruit juice (carton)
Sponge Pudding (tinned)
Rice Pudding (tinned)
Tea bags/instant coffee
Instant Mashed potato