Foodbank sees demand rise by more than 150% as families hit hard by coronavirus outbreak

Mike Smith, manager of Stowmarket and Area Foodbank, said there has been an unprecedented demand dur

Mike Smith, manager of Stowmarket and Area Foodbank, said there has been an unprecedented demand during the Covid-19 crisis. Picture: GREGG BROWN/OLIVER WALTERS MEDIA LTD - Credit: Archant

A foodbank in Stowmarket has gone from helping 60 families a month to handing out 40 emergency food parcels a week as families struggle to make ends meet during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Stowmarket and Area Foodbank has seen a steady rise in demand since it was launched in 2012 but manager Mike Smith says he could never have predicted the “unprecedented demand” brought on by the current coronavirus crisis – a rise of 166%.

The organisation is currently looking for additional space to be able to continue its work as the Stowmarket community centre, its current base, will soon return to full use as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Mr Smith said: “Not only are we continuing to support those on low income or financial disadvantage, but we are also now helping those who are struggling with the effects of the outbreak,those who are on reduced or 80% income, unemployed, vulnerable people who are shielding, recently bereaved and families who are struggling financially with the pressure of children at home.

“We are also providing additional support to those who have been rehoused with essential items such as bedding and cooking utensils and assisting with accessing furniture.”

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The parcels provided by the foodbank can range from provisions for a single person to catering for a family of ten people and they include fresh produce from local farmers and outlets.

The community centre has allowed the team to store stock including fresh and frozen food and now it is looking for an industrial unit of 1,500sq ft to 2,000sq ft to house the operation.

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Mr Smith added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from local businesses, organisations and individuals.

“We would therefore appreciate any help anyone could give us in finding a suitable premises – this will enable us to continue the vital work of the foodbank during this current crisis and support our community as it deals with the long-term economic effects of the coronavirus.”

Oliver Walters Media (OWL) is supporting the foodbank by providing advertising space on two roundabouts in Stowmarket to raise awareness of the foodbank and to promote its new, recently launched app which is available on the App store and Google Play.

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