Food Banks Grow and Grow.
New figures have revealed an “alarming” 400% increase in the number of people enquiring about emergency food supplies during the past six months,, reports the East Anglian Daily Times.
The figures, based on enquiries made at Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) branches in England and Wales between February and the end of June, revealed a four-fold rise in enquiries about foodbanks across the eastern region.
Volunteers at foodbanks in Suffolk, and staff at the county’s CABs including Stowmarket, Sudbury, Ipswich and Felixstowe, also confirmed the spike in requests, blaming changes to benefits, low wages and local job losses for the increase.
CAB national chief executive Gillian Guy described the rise as “alarming” and said that “a perfect storm of pressures” was increasing demand.
The charity has also warned that despite encouraging news about employment levels nationally, its bureaux are increasingly dealing with people who are in work but need emergency food supplies to get them through to pay day.
Hazel, a volunteer at Stowmarket Foodbank which opened last September, said the number of people using the facility had gone up significantly this month with the school holidays.
She said: “We see people from all over the mid Suffolk area who have come to us via 17 different referral agencies including the Job Centre, the local children’s centre and the CAB. We see people of all ages and from all different walks of life, not just families, who are struggling to feed themselves.
“During the holidays, children do not get a free school dinner which puts an added pressure on parents.
“The benefit changes are also starting to take effect in this area so that will make a big difference.
One thing few people seem to be commenting on is that people on benefits now have to pay a percentage of Council Tax.
In effect this is a cut in the money we get.
Added to the failure to align benefits with inflation these will mean that next year our already miserable incomes will be even less.
More queues at the Food Banks!