Foodbank near empty as more people struggle to afford food
published on 9 Jun 2022
Penrith food bank shelves becoming bare as cost-of-living crisis worsens.
Our corps in Penrith is appealing for support in stocking the shelves of its near-empty foodbank as more people than ever struggle to afford food.
Faced with the continued pressure of the rising cost of living, the corps, located on Hunters Lane, has seen referrals to its foodbank soar in recent months, supporting more than a staggering 1,211 referrals in the month of April alone, when the energy price cap rocketed around the country.
The Salvation Army Penrith has in the past used financial donations to fully stock the foodbank each week after seeing food donations slump as requests continue to soar and is appealing for support in order to meet the demand as the cost of living continues to take a grip on the most vulnerable members of local communities.
Major Carole Donaldson, joint church leader of our corps in Penrith said: “Sadly, we’re seeing more and more people come to us for help as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and some are barely able to meet their essential needs each month like food.
“We are seeing extraordinary demand and our foodbank shelves are running low on supplies as donations have dipped as everyone feels the pinch. But we are here for everyone and will get food to those in need in whatever way we can. We can’t make the problem go away completely but we are certainly here to help.”
Open two days a week, Tuesday and Friday, from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, the foodbank works on a referral basis from the likes of Citizen Advice, job centre, local schools, health visitors and doctors.
Major Carole Donaldson continued: “From single people to couples and families and from the employed to the unemployed, retired and those on disability benefits; there is no typical template of a foodbank user. Needing help can creep up quickly on anyone and something has gone wrong if people who are working can’t even afford to put food on the table.
“We want to thank everyone who donates to us, whilst we continue to help those less fortunate living within our community which is growing and a very scary reality.”
In previous years in the months after Christmas, we are usually inundated with items which we use to fill the shelves of foodbanks around the Territory, but this year the demand is quickly overtaking the amount of stock in reserves and is seeing requests from all types of people.
Pam, originally from Penrith is a working single parent who lives in Clifton with her 13 year old daughter and has found herself in need of our support from the foodbank at the Penrith church. Pam said: “I have seen my energy bills increase recently meaning the money I have each month just won’t stretch to cover all I need as everything continues to go up. I now spend the majority of my money on gas and electric meaning I then have none left to put towards food.
“It is a real worry for the future, and I’ve found myself turning to The Salvation Army for support. They’ve helped me out recently with food parcels when my payments simply didn’t cover all of my bills. I’d have been quite lost without them in all honesty, it’s just the lifeline I needed.”
Our Penrith corps sees individuals, couples and families attend the foodbank. A food parcel can include items such as tinned vegetables, fruit, pasta and sauce in a jar as well as toilet roll, coffee, biscuits and toiletries. Each referral gets food for seven days plus extras such as toiletries. Everyone gets a tailored response including families, with the team considering the age of children so that family parcels can include nappies and formula if necessary.
For anyone wishing to donate food to the foodbank drop off points are located at Booths, Penrith, Morrisons Penrith, both located on Brunswick Road, and the church and community centre on Hunters Lane, Tuesday – Friday between 10 – 2:30pm.
The Penrith Corps (church) also has a Just Giving page which can be found at www.justgiving.com/penrith-salvation-army and whilst all donations are welcome people are encouraged to donate only what they can afford.