The foodbank providing people in Biddulph with emergency supplies is bracing itself for further demand as the cost of living bites.
Co-ordinators are also fearful that as more people struggle financially, the volume of donations to Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank could be hit – just as they are needed more than ever.
With summer now over, the thoughts of many will be turning to the cold and dark days of winter ahead with predictions of inflation rising to 18% and further increases to the energy price cap also expected.
The foodbank, which also supports people in Knypersley, fed an average of 1,000 people per month before the pandemic.
But in 2022 so far, it has given emergency food provisions to more than 1,500 people a month with a record high of 1,680 in May.
Caroline Wolff, the foodbank’s community and business development co-ordinator said: “May saw the impact of the rising fuel prices bite, affecting those using pre-payment methods – the first to be impacted by the price rises. We heard from people who were working two jobs and had saved for their fuel bill not having enough to pay the increased price and already in debt.”
Now the foodbank is “extremely concerned” about what this autumn will bring, not least after the return to school following the summer holidays.
Ms Wolff added: “Those working and single people struggling to meet bills are in the rising number that we are helping, and this week those trying to afford new school uniform on top of essential household expenses.”
Ms Wolff said the foodbank “relies on the generous donations of the public from all walks of life, which has enabled us to feed over 115,000 people in the last 10 years, even in challenging times”.
She told the Chronicle: “With everyone impacted by the cost of living, we are fearful that our future donation volumes will be impacted, but to date customers at local supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s Biddulph, have kept up donation levels.
“We are now seeing the rise in demand outstripping even this selfless giving and we are additionally having to purchase food.”
Corinne Boden MBE, operations manager at Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank, the parent body for the Biddulph foodbank, said: “We shouldn’t need to exist, but we do want to say a heartfelt thank you to all the people who help us and pay tribute to the amazing support that we’ve received that has enabled us together to feed over 115,000 people in 10 years – emergency food given to those in real need. Food is a precious commodity, and we are extremely grateful for this continued giving.”
The foodbank’s 16 church-based, volunteer-crewed centres operate on a rotating basis for two hours each to cover the five weekdays. The central office and warehouse is in Blurton.
Operating locally since 2012, the foodbank gives out three-days of emergency food through a voucher-based system with referrals made from a variety of sources such as health centres, housing associations, social services and faith organisations.
Guests are then signposted to those that can help with money advice and other issues.
For more information on Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank to give help or get help visit stokeontrent.foodbank.org.uk. Local donation points are given on the website.