UNDER-PRESSURE Worcester Foodbank chiefs have launched an urgent harvest appeal for tinned food donations in a bid to thwart the threat of more people having to skip meals this autumn.
The charity is launching its Every Meal Matters campaign amid rocketing demand for emergency food and just days before Universal Credit claimants are set to see their payments reduced by £20 a week.
It is feared the cut – combined with rising energy costs and the end of the Government’s furlough support scheme – could put unprecedented pressure on foodbank’s supplies with 50 tonnes of food expected to be distributed before the end of the year.
A rebel amendment put forward by Conservative MPs, including the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, calling for the £20-per-week ‘uplift’ to be maintained was rejected by Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Monday (September 20)
While a defeat would have been non-binding on the government, the MPs had sought to use legislation on the annual uprating of pensions to highlight the controversial issue in a Commons vote before the cut takes effect
Volunteers are appealing to foodbank supporters to donate a series of tinned items that it could run short of – including tinned vegetables and fruit, cold meats, potatoes, rice pudding or custard. It hopes to have sufficient donations to help ensure no-one is forced to skip meals due to the pressure of low income.
Grahame Lucas, foodbank manager, said: “There is a terrible crisis looming for low-income households and we’re already seeing the impact at our warehouse.”
“The rise we’ve witnessed in child hunger has been particularly distressing but by donating a few tins of food during harvest people can help us to ensure no adult or child we support has to skip meals.”
Research from the Trussell Trust found that one in five Universal Credit claimants are likely to skip meals when their payments are reduced from October.
But a crisis is already taking shape in Worcester with foodbank having fed 777 people during August – up more than 80 per cent compared to the same month last year. It means volunteers are now giving out more food than they are receiving in donations – despite taking in nearly 8 tonnes during August.
Low income remains the biggest cause of referrals to foodbank with a growing number of people struggling to cover the cost of essentials – a problem set to be exacerbated in the coming months.
A copy of foodbank’s longer shopping list can be found at www.worcester.foodbank.org.uk