The Bognor Regis Foodbank has revealed a 20 per cent increase in the number of people fed during July and August compared to the same period last year.
However, Sue White, Bognor Foodbank Co-ordinator, said demand wasn’t more than in previous months, which she said is partly due to benefit changes.
Sue told the Observer: “The figures suggest that during July and August this year, the number of people fed by the foodbank in Bognor rose by about 20%, compared to the same period last year.
“(But) demand wasn’t significantly more than in the previous months.
“This is partly because we have seen many changes in benefits recently, particularly with the roll-out of Universal Credit and demand generally has increased.
“Benefit changes and delays continue to be the biggest reason for foodbank use, both in Bognor and nationally.”
The number of children represented by the figures showed a three per cent increase from last summer.
Sue said that families were ‘struggling’ to feed their children whilst they were home and not receiving free school meals.
She added: “We made an effort to include some ‘lunchbox’ type food with their regular food provision.
“Last year’s report from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger estimated the loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30-£40 a week to parents’ outgoings for one child.
“Our yearly figures April 2017/March 2018 showed a general increase in use of 15 per cent on the previous year (April 2017/March 2017) reflecting the national increase of 13 per cent.”
Sue said the foodbank has been supported by a ‘regular group of about 18 volunteers’ as well as several helpers at ‘big supermarket collections’.
Foodbank needs more donations
Sue admitted that, like most foodbanks, stock is ‘extremely low’ but they ‘hope and expect’ the situation will be improved by Harvest Festival and Christmas collections.
The summer holidays may be over with children heading back to school this week but Sue identified a list of items the Bognor Regis Foodbank still needs.
She said: “Our most needed items at present are: fruit juice/squash, UHT milk, soup, tinned fruit and tinned rice pudding.
“The only things we have good amounts of are baked beans, tea and pasta.”
Donations can be made in the permanent collection points in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and many of the Co-ops. Most of the churches also have collection points.
Sue said people can also donate by taking food and toiletries directly to the foodbank, which is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and, Fridays from 11am to 4pm.