Food bank usage rises by nearly 20 per cent

First published in News

THE number of people turning to the North Cotswold Food Bank has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last year, according to latest figures.

Set up more than two years ago as a lifeline to people living in food poverty, the Guiting Power-based service fed 1,432 individuals from April 12, 2013 to March this year - 734 of which were children - compared with 1,162 the previous year.

It follows the latest figures from the Trussell Trust which last week announced that food bank usage has tripled in the UK over the last 12 months.

But while the service in the North Cotswolds has not seen an increase of that extent, food bank manager Rhian Morgan said demand was still high.

"Most of our clients in this area are low income working families," she said. "Clearly people are struggling to meet budgets. All you need is a crises of your car breaking down and you're budget totally goes over.

"We've had a lot of cases like that. You pay that bill and you haven't got money for food. Sometimes it's the unexpected costs that will affect how much money you've got to spend on food or whatever."

The food bank, which also has outlets in Winchcombe, Bourton, Chipping Campden and Moreton, offers people a minimum of three days’ non-perishable nutritionally balanced food who are in need of emergency assistance.

Nationally, the Trussell Trust said the increase in people using the foodbank was down to static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare.

But Mrs Morgan said the rising cost of living and low incomes was the most common reason people used the North Cotswold service followed by benefit changes and delays.

And there was also a large amount of low income farmworkers whose hours could be unstable.

"Rural poverty is a whole different issue," she said. "We had somebody from Moreton just before Christmas working 50 hours a week on a farm and that was reduced to 10. That's the nature of some of the work in this area."

The independent food bank in Shipston, which has a collection point in the Badger Valley children's centre Sure Start, inTilemans Lane, on average feeds about six families every month since it was set up in December 2012.

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