Hull Foodbank needs your support to continue
A CHARITY that has helped feed hundreds of Hull families on the breadline says it is running out of food amid unprecedented demand.
Hull Foodbank has supplied almost ten tonnes of food to more than 900 families since its launch last year.
But stocks have plummeted, leaving the charity with no option but to limit the amount of vouchers it issues to agencies such as family centres.
Vouchers can be redeemed for a food parcel that will sustain a family for three days.
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Steve Whittington, who helps distribute food from Jubilee Church in King Edward Street, city centre, said: "There has been a significant increase in demand for our food parcels.
"Agencies such as Community Legal Advice Centre (CLAC) and various children and family centres are ringing us up telling us they are running low on vouchers and asking for more.
"But we are having to tell them that we are not issuing as many as we were before.
"The last thing we want is a situation where someone in desperate need comes to us with a voucher, but there is not a food parcel waiting for them."
But Mr Whittington said the crisis has only partly been caused by rising levels of unemployment and deprivation.
Hull is tenth on the list of most-deprived local authority areas, with unemployment figures significantly higher than the national average.
Mr Whittington, who stressed the charity, explained: "The high demand for our service is not all down to the current economic situation. It is now a lot easier for people to access Hull Foodbank, thanks to partnership work and advertising methods."
Food is donated to Hull Foodbank by churches, schools and community groups, as well as individuals.
"It is Hull people helping other Hull people," said Mr Whittington.
In the short term, volunteers are pinning their hopes on donations of food from harvest collections held by churches and schools across Hull.
"We are hoping this will quickly rectify the situation and replenish stocks quickly," said Mr Whittington.
But planned significant changes to the way the Government pays benefits to the unemployed and long-term sick could put further strain on the charity, warns Mr Whittington.
He said: "We are already helping people who are experiencing delays in payments.
"At national level, Foodbank is concerned some people will fall through the net and will be left without money to feed their families. Organisations such as Hull Foodbank will not be able to help long-term. We are here to help only those in the most serious need and then it's short-term."
Councillor Rosemary Pantelakis raised the issue in a discussion on poverty at a meeting of the city council's value for money scrutiny commission.
She said: "Hull Foodbank is obviously doing its best but it underlines the scale of the problem in Hull.
"Unfortunately, it's something that is only going to get worse when all the changes to benefits come into force from next April."