Demand for Hastings Foodbank has rocketed by 53 percent in the last four months, it has been revealed.
The sudden spike in demand has led to the King’s Church, which houses the town’s foodbank on The Ridge, to put out an appeal to its partner churches for more food donations in a bid to meet the growing need.
Although the team behind the foodbank is not sure what has caused the surge, Natalie Williams, communications and community engagement manager at King’s Church, says there are two factors which may have had an impact.
She told the Observer: “Universal credit came to the town in December and some people are struggling with the gap changing from one benefit to another.
“We are also a Fuel Bank and because not every foodbank is a Fuel Bank we think people from outside our area are being referred to us for fuel and getting their food here too.”
The foodbank’s appeal for churches to spread the word among their congregations has been met with a positive response, with the foodbank receiving “quite an influx” of foodstuffs over the last week.
Those in need are referred to the foodbank by a number of organisations, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, health visiting teams, schools, and housing associations.
They can be referred for a variety of reasons, from long-term sickness to low wages and from benefit delays to debt.
Between April 1 2016 and March 30 2017, Hastings Foodbank gave 6,217 people food, including 2,447 children. This compares to 4,045 over the same period in 2015/16, including 1,506 children.
But despite the Hastings Foodbank’s recent surge in demand, Natalie says it is continuing to meet the needs of all who are referred to the facility.
She said: “We are continuing to meet the need as it arises and we are feeling positive about that and we will keep meeting the need as it comes.
“Obviously with an increasing number of people coming to us, there will be an increased need.”
Natalie added: “We are incredibly grateful to the people of Hastings and the surrounding areas for their continued support and donations.
“We couldn’t do what we do without their generosity towards other local people facing crisis situations.”
Hastings Foodbank bins are available in Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s as well as at the Hastings Centre/King’s Church on The Ridge.