Herald launches campaign to help feed families this Christmas

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‘FRIGHTENING’ numbers of people will be struggling to afford to eat this Christmas and New Year according to Sid Valley Food Bank organisers - who say demand has quadrupled in just a year.

The message comes as the Sidmouth Herald joins forces with its three sister newspapers to encourage readers to donate much-needed goods.

On Friday, November 23, Sid Valley Food Bank handed out 23 boxes that will feed a total of 61 people.

Organisers say they are now low on supplies and hopes residents will come to their aid.

They are currently being forced to go out and buy food with cash kindly donated to the cause to make up the shortfall.

Food bank manager Lois Swarbrick fears the current level of demand is ‘not sustainable’ and donations, money and volunteers are desperately needed.

“The sheer volume now, compared to when we opened a year ago, has just gone mad,” she said.

“The demand has quadrupled. Three to six boxes was the average at the beginning.

“I was shocked [last Friday], I’d anticipated we would see this in January.

“It feels like people do not have any ‘fat’ now, so only one thing has to happen in their lives – like the car breaking down or a high heating bill – and they haven’t got the resources to deal with it and are in crisis.

“If that volume continues then we need to up the level of donations we have been getting or we will have to rely on using cash – and that will only last for a certain amount of time.

“I am really concerned. We are only at the end of November and the beginning of winter.

“People are facing a difficult Christmas.

“If we closed our doors now, what would they do? It’s frightening.”

Chairman Ian Skinner added: “It’s getting rather desperate now. We are just hopeful our empty shelves will get replenished.

“When we were first set up, we wondered how long it would be needed for. It’s now obvious it is a long term thing and there are genuine people who are in need.”

With more than 130,000 readers between them each week, the Herald, Exmouth Journal, Midweek Herald, and North Devon Gazette are launching a four-week campaign to boost supplies at local food banks.

A total of 61 people were spared from going hungry by the Sid Valley Food Bank last Friday.

Volunteers distributed 23 boxes made up of a nutritionally balanced range of items to individuals, couples and families-of-four.

It is important the mix of donations is right to meet the demand, for which the cause needed:

• 423 tins of food

• 23 boxes of cereal

• 23 packets of sugar

• 23 cartons of fruit juice

• 920 tea bags

• 61 toilet rolls

• 23 packets of biscuits

• 23 jars of jam

• 23 jars of pasta sauce

• 23 packets of pasta

• Another 100 bits and pieces – including bread, milk, coffee and toiletries – were also required.

The food bank covers the whole Sid Valley as well as Tipton St John, Newton Poppleford and Branscombe.

It is supported by churches and the Co-operative and Tesco supermarkets as well as Spar in Sidford, which all have collection boxes.

Customers are referred by a host of authorities, organisations and charities.

How you can make a donation or help:

• The Sid Valley Food Bank runs from the Leigh Browne room of the Unitarian Chapel, in All Saints Road, on Mondays from 10.30am to 11.30am and on Fridays from 12.30pm to 3pm.

• The cause will have a table at Waitrose in Stowford Rise today (Friday, November 29) and tomorrow (Saturday, November 30) from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Volunteers will gratefully receive donations of non-perishable items - but say they are already well stocked on baked beans, tea and porridge.

• Help is needed to accept deliveries, deal with clients and make up food boxes.

• Contact the food bank on 07413 858335 or email sidvalleyfoodbank@gmail.com.

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