THE IN-DEMAND Hastings food bank has reached an unwelcome milestone by helping its 5,000th person.
Last week the Observer revealed how the number of local people being forced to turn to the charity for food hand-outs had rocketed in recent months.
An increase of 20 per cent has been recorded compared to last year.
And since the story appeared last Friday the Hastings Food Bank, which runs out of Kings Church, told the Observer the number of people helped had now topped the 5,000 mark.
November was also the scheme’s busiest month to date – with December almost certain to beat it with volunteers already having handed out 2,500kg of food in the run up to Christmas.
The charity had heard of heart-wrenching tales of parents going without food to feed their children.
Other stories included children surviving on little more than bread and soup.
Jeff Beale, the food bank’s co-ordinator, also revealed that in the first 15 months of the scheme (April 2012-June 2013) the food bank helped 2,500 people.
“That means that in the six months since that figure has been matched. This gives an indication as to just how rapidly demand is growing. It’s easy to reduce this to statistics but we must remember that these are people’s lives.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people facing desperate crisis situations and needing help.
“I’m so thankful for the generosity of the residents, churches, schools and businesses of Hastings and St Leonards who donate food week in week out. Their kindness is making a massive difference to the lives of their fellow local residents.”
Food bank collection bins can be found in most local supermarkets and churches and people can also drop food off direct to Kings Church at the Hastings Centre on The Ridge.
Hastings Borough Council also has a donation centre and anyone who would like to help can contact the food bank on 01424 755990. The charity runs a website listing the kinds of foods in demand. These include long-life milk, fruit juice, tinned vegetables, cereals, biscuits, tinned meat and tinned fish. Visit www.hastings.foodbank.org.