Dawn Stanford, operations director of Nourish Community Foodbank, said emergency food deliveries are up around 50 per cent and that the charity is now relying on its own financial reserves to keep people fed after food donations have also dropped off.
She is blaming the rise in fuel and energy prices, along with hikes to National Insurance, which is not only putting more people on the breadline but has also seen the amount of donations of food to the charity plummet.
“We are delivering about 120 food parcels a week. It had been ranging between 80 and 100, but in the last couple of months we have been doing 120-130.”
She added that when the charity first formed nine years ago, they were making just three to four deliveries a week.
Earlier this month (Thursday, April 14), Nourish delivered 41 parcels in one day – representing three days’ worth of emergency food and supplies to people in crisis – the most ever recorded.
“We are doing fuel referrals as well,” said Dawn, adding: “Now probably one in eight of referrals are specifically to do with fuel bills.
“An emergency crisis or unexpected bill have always been our referral criteria, but people can’t pay what they were paying, for example a direct debit for electricity or gas might have increased 50 or 100 per cent.
“A lot more people need debt help for what used to be manageable outgoings.”
Meanwhile, food donations have fallen, which she said she understood as ‘people don’t have enough money to fill their own trolley’.
“Now I have to use funds [from financial donations] every week to fill up deliveries, and I don’t know how sustainable that is,” she admitted.
“We are very frugal, but our funding [from financial donations] isn’t a bottomless pit. All our costs are going up. We’re talking thousands spent on food.”
Another new noticeable trend was referrals from villages and rural areas.
“We cross Kent and East Sussex, including Ticehurst and Wadhurst, and villages have seen the biggest upsurge.”