Needy families in the area are to have access to a foodbank on their doorstep.
A group of volunteers has this week launched their initial £1,500 bid to get the facility up and running across the Lower Wharfe Valley district in six months time.
Steering group chairman Gail Bowen said people from various organisations in the community had decided, following a meeting and vote, that there was an overwhelming need for a foodbank.
“Lots of people can slip into need maybe through redundancy, low wages, benefits changes.
“It can happen to anyone, anywhere.”
“Often it can be harder to access help in an area like Wetherby than somewhere such as Leeds.”
Gail added: “Nearly 60 questionnaires were completed and summarised. This summary indicated overwhelmingly postive support for the establishment of a local foodbank.
“So, this is the start of an important, local community project.”
The steering group, which was instigated by Wetherby Methodist church, will now focus on finding a distribution centre, warehousing, transport and shelving.
And they will call on the expertise of the Trussell Trust, a charity which supports the development of local foodbanks.
Gail added: “There is a cost to this (though we do believe that this cost will save vast amounts of time and resources in the longer term) we need to find £1,500 to ‘engage’ the support of the Trussell Trust – and then over the next few months we will have to raise more money to get the project up and running – and then develop an income stream to sustain it.
“So – a real challenge for us all.”
The running costs for the first year of operation across the Wetherby, Boston Spa and Tadcaster areas are expected to be £6,000.
Wetherby MP Alec Shelbrooke paid tribute to the organisers of the scheme: “Foodbanks provide an incredibly valuable service, beyond the support already provided by Government, and I would like to pay tribute to the hardworking volunteers involved in our area.
“It is clear that people visit food banks for a variety of different reasons, not just in tough economic times.
“The use of foodbanks went up tenfold over the past decade when the country was in a period of sustained economic growth. However, I believe it is still highly undesirable that anybody should be in a position where they feel the need to visit a foodbank in the first place and that’s why I voted for welfare reforms that are now helping people get out of the benefits trap and back into employment.
“As a result of that and a growing economy, unemployment is now falling month on month in our area. But in my opinion this isn’t enough, and we must ensure that work always pays a liveable wage, which is why I recently called for the Low Pay Commission to look at raising the national minimum wage.”
The steering group is eager to receive any offers of help, including those who would like to join the steering group or become trustees, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org