Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank are taking steps to cope with increasing demand for foodbanks in the UK.
UK foodbank use continues to rise according to new data from anti-poverty charity, the Trussell Trust.
The Trussell Trust runs the largest network of foodbanks in the UK, providing emergency food and support to people in crisis.
Between April 1 2016 and March 31 this year, the Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network gave 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16, and of this, 436,938 went to children.
Low income, benefit delays and benefit changes were the biggest causes of referral to a foodbank, with low income having risen as a referral cause from 23% the previous year to 26% for the year 2016-2017.
The charity’s latest report, Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been gradual so far, foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.
Responding to the report, Trussell Trust’s Chief Executive David McAuley said: “The move to simplify an often complex welfare system is a welcome one but any large reform can have unforeseen consequences.
“Foodbanks see first-hand how changes to the welfare system affect people on the ground, and so can offer an early warning to decision-makers.”
The South East of England provided the second highest amount of emergency food supplies through the Trussell Trust at 106,898, following the whole of Scotland which offered 145,865.
Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank is a member of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, working to prevent and relieve poverty in and around the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.
During the 2016/17 financial year, H&F Foodbank saw a 37% increase in the number of men, women and children benefitting from their food parcels, compared to that of the previous year.
In the first six weeks of the current financial year, H&F Foodbank saw a 132% increase in demand on the year before, suggesting that there could be as many as 10,000 beneficiaries during 2017/18.
With each parcel containing enough food to prepare up to 10 meals for dependants, the increase means 100,000 meals will be required from the charity, and they will need to attain significantly more food than the 52 tonnes that the foodbank used during 2016/2017.
H&F Foodbank Chief Executive Daphine Aikens said: “Logistics is a very important part of what we do – that is, ensuring we always have enough of the right kind of food, in the right place, at the right time.
“For a small charity, we’ve done quite well – but not without a lot of work; and as of just a few months ago, we had to hire a full-time Warehouse Manager/Driver to help keep this area of work as efficient as possible.”
In addition to emergency food parcels, H&F Foodbank offers a range of initiatives to tackle the food crisis.
One action includes running cooking and budgeting courses, called ‘Eat Well and Spend Less’, which have been shown to help participants save an average of £20 per week on their food bills, amounting to over £1,000 a year.
“We are very excited about the benefits of this course, not just financial, but also for health reasons as we’ve had some very positive feedback in this area,” said Mrs Aikens.
She added: “Having said that, these courses cost us £1,000 to run, we’ve had some funding to run previous courses but that has now been spent, and there are 4 or 5 more courses already booked with already 3 running at the moment. We hope to run a total of 18 Courses during 2017.”
Over 90 percent of food given out by Trussell Trust foodbanks is donated by the public, and in 2016-17, 11,175 tonnes of food were given to people in crisis across Britain.
Food donations from the public are vital for the charities to keep up with the increasing demand to supply balanced and nutritious meals.
If you wish to support H&F Foodbank through donations or volunteering visit their website or call 020 7731 3693.