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Food poverty crisis deepens as more than 150 St Helens people access emergency supplies
10:20am Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
MORE than 150 poverty-stricken people have been given parcels of groceries in the three months since the St Helens Foodbank launched, the Star has learned.
And managers there believe hundreds more will have to be donated to hard-up families when benefit changes – including the ‘bedroom tax and council tax changes - kick in over the next few months.
Heartbreaking stories of the desperate plight faced by some people were shared with the Star this week. They include how one mother walked from Newton-le-Willows to St Helens to access emergency food supplies for her family.
In another case, a single person on low income was referred to the foodbank after going a week without eating.
Benefit changes, low income, delayed wages, sickness are all highlighted as other reasons why families have had to turn for help.
More than a third of those who have been given food parcels are children.
Marie Rimmer, leader of St Helens Council, has spoke previously about her concerns children from poor families are going to school without breakfast because money is so tight.
Worryingly, the foodbank charity the Trussell Trust, which is behind the St Helens project, has pointed to research that estimates one in ten people in the north west have suffered from some form of food poverty in the last 12 months.
It suggests five per cent of people are skipping meals and four per cent are relying on friends or family for food.
Many parents are also going without food to feed their children.
However, the positive news is the remarkable generosity that has enabled the foodbanks to become well stocked.
More than 11,100 kg of food has been donated since the St Helens branch was established and approaching a fifth of that has been distributed.
Appeals with local schools and churches, in particular harvest festivals, donations from businesses and a collection by the supermarket Tesco have helped pull in stocks.
So how does St Helens Foodbank operate?
The Foodbank receives food donations. Food is then given to local families and individuals already being supported by a local agency.
Families and individuals who may need emergency food parcels are given a voucher to take to one of two hubs in the town to collect their food.
TO donate food items, call Janice on 01744 26414