Tonnes of food dished out as Leeds families battle summer ‘pressure point’

Adam Smith, founder of the Real Junk Food Project, at the food giveaway in Pudsey. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Adam Smith, founder of the Real Junk Food Project, at the food giveaway in Pudsey. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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A mountain of ‘intercepted’ food is helping to sustain hundreds of families through the difficult summer months.

Several tonnes of frozen meat, bread, tins, fruit and vegetables are being handed out to residents by the Real Junk Food Project’s Armley Junk-tion, which is a pay-as-you-feel cafe.

The giveaway of food that would otherwise have gone to waste is taking place as the organisation clears its Pudsey warehouse and moves premises but the take-up highlights the growing struggles of families during the summer holidays.

The clear-out, which ends on Sunday, saw up to six tonnes of food distributed to hundreds of West Yorkshire families within the first 36 hours. Visitors made small donations of time or money in exchange for the food.

It comes as charities warn that, without the support of free school meals for children during summer, many families across the city are going hungry.

Alison Garnham, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said the school holidays are a “big pressure point for hard-up parents”.

She said: “It’s great that local projects can redistribute food but of course it isn’t a long-term solution for families.”

She urged Government to make addressing food poverty a priority through “fixing” benefits administration, protecting family benefits and tackling low pay and rising housing costs.

In May the YEP revealed that the number of people referred to Leeds’ 12 main food banks rose by almost a quarter to 25,327 in the year to March 2016 compared to the previous year.

The Leeds Food Aid Network (LFAN) said the number of emergency food parcels rose by 10 per cent during that time.

Dave Paterson, of Unity in Poverty Action, which chairs the LFAN, said the summer holidays also see state support like referrals of families by schools to food banks grind to a halt.

Adding that the LFAN is planning talks with politicians and is backing the End Hunger UK campaign, he said: “We would love the Government to do more.

“The biggest problem we have is a lit of food aid prevention is run by volunteers and it’s a huge issue getting people to volunteer during the summer holidays.”