Dunstable Foodbank has praised the generosity of members of the public as the charity enters the busy festive period well prepared.
Figures from the UK’s biggest food bank network show use of foodbanks jumped more than 20 per cent in Bedfordshire last Christmas.
Dunstable Foodbank operates as an independent charity but under the guidelines set out by the national Christian charity, the Trussell Trust, and is actively supported by churches in Dunstable and the surrounding villages.
The Trussell Trust is bracing itself for its busiest ever Christmas, with figures suggesting a record numbers of people in need will seek support this December.
But Mike Pittam, the operations manager at Dunstable Foodbank, has said they are not currently experiencing a surge in activity and the warehouse is well stocked, thanks to a recent foodbank drive at Tesco in Dunstable and the generosity of the public.
He said: “We usually see a surge in foodbank activity at the end of the year, although the timing is variable.
“We are not currently experiencing such a surge in activity, we are only up 15 per cent compared to the same week last year.
“In the financial year to date we have seen an average of 90 clients per week (split 48 adults and 42 children – defined as under 16).
“In the last financial year we saw an average of 81 clients a week. Over the last four weeks of this financial year, to the end of November, we have seen on average 81 clients a week. For
a short period in the summer of this year we were seeing a 54 per cent increase in activity year-on-year and we were down to a months supply of food in our warehouse.
“We launched a publicity campaign and the public responded generously which allowed us to replenish our stores.
“In the period leading up to Christmas people are usually very generous with their donations.
“We are keen to avoid specifically Christmas products - as we normally receive an excess of these.
“We remain very grateful for the continued generous support of the people of Dunstable.
“Without this we could not continue to provide a service to local people who are struggling to feed their families.”
Last December, in Bedfordshire, The Trussell Trust handed out 1,191 three-day emergency food parcels, equivalent to 269 every week – including 542 (46%) to children. It meant the charity recorded a 28% increase in demand in the area, compared to the monthly average for 2018-19.
Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie warned that communities across the country are being pushed into poverty.
She said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water.
“Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”
Dunstable Foodbank currently needs sponge puddings (long life), instant coffee (small jar), squash, sugar and tinned meat.
They are overstocked on baked beans, pasta and soup, but always need tea, UHT milk, tinned fruit, instant mash, tinned food, pasta sauce, snack pasta, savoury and sweet treats, and jam.
There is Zumba Christmas charity event in aid of the foodbank at Dunstable Leisure Centre on Sunday, December 15, from 11am till 1pm. Admission is a food donation and £1.50 registration fee. To sign up visit: www.facebook.com/events/468344077136291.
> For more information visit: dunstable.foodbank.org.uk.