Children living on breadline: Grantham Foodbank struggles to meet rising demand from families
The number of families turning to Grantham Foodbank for emergency food supplies to feed their children has soared since April.
Local figures released reveal there has been a massive 54 per cent increase in the amount of children receiving emergency food parcels from Grantham’s foodbank in the last six months, compared to the same period last year.
Foodbank co-ordinator Brian Hanbury, who has managed the facility since it opened seven years ago under the auspices of Churches Together and in association with national foodbank network The Trussell Trust, warns that it is not the end of these “alarming” figures.
He said: “In the last six months, we have distributed emergency food parcels to 1,851 local people, including 613 children.
“This equates to 16,659 meals weighing 18 tonnes, and a massive growth of children support.”
Although Brian said that universal credit cannot be solely blamed for the rise in foodbank use in the area, he reveals that volunteers are seeing and supporting more families with younger children since the controversial benefit was rolled out last year.
He added: “There has a steady increase in demand since the roll-out of universal credit to families [in Grantham] last October.
“We are campaigning for a change in the way it is rolled out.
If a family is living close to the breadline, having a delay between support can thrust them into debt and hardship. We see this as completely unjust.”
Brian predicts a struggle ahead if demand continues to rise, adding: “We will try to be there for our local community, but if we see any more growth, we will struggle to stay ahead of this hardship.”
Following a shortage of recent food donations, Brian is also concerned about not having enough supplies.
He added: “We are noticing that we are having to work harder to get the food in as people are struggling with managing their own resources.
“We are really struggling to keep up with these increases of stock going out. Stock coming in is almost two tonnes down.
“We would like to say a massive thank you for the local support over harvest but we are already having to encourage the reverse calendar to keep on top of the ever-growing need.”
The Government has been criticised over universal credit since the benefit was introduced and has faced repeated calls to do more to protect affected families.
Conservative Grantham MP Nick Boles told the Journal: “I am deeply troubled by these worrying reports from the Grantham Foodbank and will be seeking an urgent meeting with Brian Hanbury so I can find out more.
“I shall take the information he provides straight to ministers.”
If you would like to get involved and help support those less fortunate this Christmas, the foodbank is taking part in a reverse Advent calendar scheme, whereby you fill a box with items of food throughout December that can then be taken to the foodbank. Items can include chocolate, candy canes, cakes, chocolate and sponge puddings, selection boxes, tinned ham/chicken, tea bags and coffee, tinned milk sugar and toiletries.
Brian added: “We are trying to get all goods in place a week before Christmas. Our opening hours are Monday between 2pm-4pm and Wednesday and Friday between 1pm-3pm. Our last distribution day will be Friday, December 21.”
For more information on the foodbank and other ways that you can help, visit granthamfoodbank.org.uk