AN urgent plea for donations has been made by a foodbank operating numerous distribution hubs across Barnsley after volunteers warned items are running low - despite a growing amount of people seeking help.
The Trussell Trust’s end-of-year statistics - relating to the town centre, Athersley, Darfield, Goldthorpe, Penistone, Royston, Great Houghton, Grimethorpe, Birdwell, Worsbrough and Staincross - show 7,265 food parcels were handed out in Barnsley between April 2021 and March 2022, compared to 6,465 during the same period in 2020/21.
Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey has called on residents to donate items to venues.
He said: “Britain shouldn’t be a country where millions of people are struggling to get by on a day to day basis.
“These figures are devastating and reveal the level of hunger for children and families because of the cost-of-living crisis.
“Cuts to Universal Credit, lack of help to deal with rocketing energy bills, punishing tax rises and real terms pensions cuts are pushing more and more working people and pensioners into foodbank queues.”
The charity typically hands out emergency packages containing three days’ worth of food but since the start of the pandemic, it has also started providing supplies in seven-day packages in response to growing need and to limit the number of deliveries.
Other local food banks are telling the same story including the Salvation Army in Goldthorpe, where John has volunteered through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organisers there also say numbers have gone ‘through the roof’.
Alison Sykes, who runs the foodbank, added: “The number of people coming to us for support continues to rise but donations are falling.
“The majority of those needing food parcels tell us that the reason they need help is because of low income, sudden increase in expenditure - such as rising bills and budgeting issues.
“People locally are looking at their own household budgets and having to cut back.
“That has the knock-on effect that they don’t have any spare income to donate items to the food bank which makes it harder for us to put our parcels together.”
Latest information from The Food Foundation has also shown a rapid 57 per cent jump nationally in the proportion of households cutting back on food or missing meals altogether in just three months.
In April, 7.3 million adults lived in households that said they had gone without food or could not physically get it in the past month, which include 2.6 million children.
John said: “It’s clear the government’s lack of help is causing hardship across Barnsley and the rest of the country.
“The food budget is often the first thing to be cut when money’s tight.
“People feel abandoned by the government at a time when they need help with spiralling costs coming at them from all quarters.
“They see Tory ministers who are out of touch and making the problems worse by hitting people with a tax hike in their pay packets this week.
“The Chancellor has now raised taxes 15 times, costing families £1,060 this year.
“These tax rises combined with energy cost, petrol, food shopping and mortgage rises are costing families on average a total £2,620 this year.
“People rightly expect the government to do more, and they need help now with the spiralling cost of basics.”