A SHOCKING rise in the number of people seeking food handouts this year has left a charity having to look elsewhere to fulfil demand.
The Salvation Army normally relies on harvest donations from schools and churches to provide for food parcels in the run up to Christmas – as well as for their festive parcels.
But with a steep increase in folk seeking support from the organisation’s food banks, the donations ran out months earlier than normal, leaving organisers having to cast their net to help those in need.
Vic Wileman, of the Salvation Army, said: “In previous years the harvest donations have gone a long way to help us with our Christmas food parcels, and it has given us quite a lot of the food that we need.
“This year, it’s disappeared. It had gone by the beginning of November.
“We have been very fortunate that one or two firms, a lot of individuals and some churches have helped us out and come forward with more supplies of food, but we still had to go out and buy quite a lot.
“It’s what we’re here for.”
The individuals and organisations who have helped are based around the East Staffordshire area.
Around 200 festive parcels are being put together for people in East Staffordshire, following requests for various organisations to help those who have nothing at Christmas.
The parcels, which include mince pies, sweets, and toys for children, will begin to be distributed next week.
Mr Wileman told the Mail: “The food parcels we take out are directed to us by agencies for people that have been identified as most in need because of the situations they are in.
“We know the people they are going to are the people that really need the help and support.
“If nothing else, we hope it will bring a smile to the faces of a few people at Christmas.
“These are people in need and we want to help them and let them know that somebody cares.”
These festive handouts will bring to an end a year of extraordinarily high demand for food parcels in the area, with Burton YMCA and the town’s soup kitchen also experiencing a hike in requests.
In November alone, the three groups distributed 193 parcels, equating to 915 days worth of supplies.
The amount was shared between 342 adults – 239 adults and 103 children.
Mick Cramp, from Burton Soup Kitchen, estimates this to be a rise of 75 per cent since last year.
“It’s dreadful,” he said.
Demand is also high in at the Swadlincote food bank, which runs from the town’s Council for Voluntary Services.