Organisers of the Harrogate District Foodbank are calling for further support after food supplies dropped to some of their lowest levels following a summer holiday spike in demand.
Speaking to the Advertiser this week, organisers of the food bank said it had ‘turned a corner’ thanks to an increase in donations from across the district after appealing for help through a difficult August.
Over the past five years, the district has bucked a national trend among Trussell Trust food banks, with numbers of users dropping over the summer months.
This is despite families relying on the bank to find meals for their children, as they struggle to cover the cost of replacing school lunches during the holidays.
According to figures collected by the bank, through the vouchers that are handed in for supplies, the most common reason individuals or families in the district seek help are: they are on low incomes; they face benefit changes or a delay to the payment of their benefits.
These numbers are expected to continue to rise in the district, and it is believed this is why supplies began to run low this year.
Of the 2,069 people fed by the bank between April 2017 and March 2018, 748 reported low income as a reason for using the bank, 401 blamed benefit delays, while 438 said changes to the awarding of benefits, such as the introduction of Universal Credit, meant they had less money to buy food.
This year the numbers already stand at 333 for low income, 167 for benefit delays and 136 for changes in benefits.
It is estimated the increased demand over the summer holiday will mean the bank has fed extra people, numbering in the hundreds.
It is a pattern that is being seen across the country says Lucy Stewart of the HDFB. She said: “We are going to need more help. The trust advise that where Universal Credit is in full roll out you will see an exceptional increase.
“They don’t have 10 years worth of stats to refer to yet but they are advising us to be prepared to be busier year on year. I would say the main thing we need to ask is that the public remember us, when you are at Waitrose and see the permanent collection point, remember every little bit you put in helps.”
She added: “You never know when you might need to use the foodbank, you’re only one unexpected bill or a delay in your income from needing the foodbank which is there to serve a purpose, to help people.
“To do that we need the continued support of the public.”
The bank is already planning ahead for how it could meet an increased demand, with work underway to establish a permanent collection point in Knaresborough.
Previous years point to a likely increase in demand, as the summer comes to an end.
The appeal for support was launched last month after the bank saw supplies drop below three tonnes.
As of August 23, the amount of food stored by the bank stood at 2,743.8 kg, one of the lowest amounts the bank has seen since its launch five years ago when it was required to have at least three tonnes in storage.
Donations are continuing and there is an expected boost on the way as a result of the harvest festival events, which are a key source of supplies, but further help is needed.
A list of what is required by the foodbank can be found at Harrogatedistrict.foodbank.org.uk