MORE than £26,000 worth of food has been handed to borough residents struggling to feed themselves in less than 10 months.
Over 1,400 people – 398 of them children – have turned for support from Redditch Food Bank since it launched towards the start of September last year.
In total 14.5 tonnes of food has been given out with an average of 143 people who are struggling with the cost of living.
Volunteers behind the food bank have been forced to open a third distribution centre and are attempting to employ a part-time manager in order to cope with the growing demand.
The vast majority of those who have accessed the food bank did so because of changes to or delays related to benefits but a significant proportion are also on low incomes.
Rev Robin Baker, chairman of Redditch Food Bank, said he did not see the situation improving in the near future.
“There are a lot of people struggling with a crisis in their life and a lot is down to benefit changes but not all of it,” he said.
“Demand is constant and we don’t see any signs of this getting any better. Where we are now is where we are going to be for the next 12 months.”
Redditch MP Karen Lumley said while it was highly undersirable anybody should be in a position where they felt the need to use a food bank, the Government had cut the income tax of over 30,000 people in Redditch with nearly 4,000 taken out of tax altogether making them £700 better off.
“The fact some of Redditch’s poorest families are struggling to afford to feed themselves is of course very concerning. I pay tribute to those who have volunteered for or donated to the Redditch Food Bank,” she said.
“The welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed, so nobody has to struggle to meet their basic needs. The surest route out of poverty is work, and I’m pleased there are now over 1,000 people in work in Redditch than four years ago.”
A collection for the food bank is being held at Tesco in Oakenshaw between Thursday and Saturday (July 3 to 5) and shoppers are being urged to donate what they can. A tonne of food will feed 25 families.
Donations can also be made at distribution centres at Oasis Christian Centre off Plymouth Road on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10am and 2pm, Fridays between 1pm and 4pm, Redditch Nightstop in the Ecumencial Centre between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday and Christ Church Matchborough on Wednesdays between 1pm and 4pm.
Anyone who would like to help with the collection or for more information should contact Rev Robin Baker on 07977 432031.