Yorkshire Evening Post readers have helped to feed more than 1,260 desperate people in Leeds this summer – almost half of them children.
Individuals, businesses and other organisations across the city have played a part in collecting a staggering 15 tons of food – the equivalent of FIVE double decker buses full.
And foodbanks in north, south and west Leeds have handed out a staggering 11.7 tons of emergency food parcels – almost THREE double deckers – to needy residents whose cupboards were bare.
We launched our Feed a Family campaign at the beginning of the school holidays, when we revealed that parents would be forced to skip meals this summer to prevent their children from going hungry.
None of the city’s four Trussell Trust foodbanks had been up and running during the summer before.
They feared demand would soar and their shelves would be cleared as families struggled to put food on their tables during the six-week break from school.
Now their project managers have hailed the YEP campaign as a great success, praising kind-hearted readers for helping to keep hunger at bay in hundreds of struggling households.
Karen Burgon, project manager for Leeds North, said they had seen their busiest day EVER this summer – handing out TWICE as many emergency food parcels as usual.
“Over the school holidays we had our busiest day and we have now been open a year.
“We had 26 voucher-holders in one two-hour session. That’s the most we have ever done in any session.
“The closest we came to that was last Christmas when we did 20. We usually run at about 13.”
Linda Jackson, project manager for Leeds South Foodbank, said: “I want to say a big thank you to the YEP for running the campaign and raising our profile within the local community and also to all the people that donated the food.”
She added: “The people that come to us are really desperate. They’ve got no food in their cupboards.
“Whatever the political arguments, children should not have to go to bed hungry and that’s what motivates me and all my team.”
Foodbanks in north, south and west Leeds have fed a total of 1,264 people this summer – 691 adults and 573 children.
Leeds South collected 10 tons and handed out six tons to 613 service users.
Leeds West collected 3.3 tons and handed out 3.2 tons to 298 people.
Leeds North collected 1.8 tons and handed out 2.5 tons to 353 voucher-holders.
Figures were unavailable for Leeds East Foodbank.
Karen added: “The YEP Feed a Family campaign has definitely raised awareness, not just amongst clients we might expect to get but among the public and we have had an increase in donations.
“A lot of people don’t want to come to us because they are too embarrassed, so that fact that the YEP has done so much on this will probably make people feel more like it’s OK to do – it has taken away the stigma.”
Although the campaign has now ended, demand for the foodbanks continues all year round.