Hastings Foodbank marked its seven-year anniversary last Wednesday (April 17).
It was opened by King’s Church in 2012 with significant support from other churches in the town and has since distributed 279 tonnes of food during that time, almost 40 per cent of which has gone to children facing poverty.
The foodbank said the need for its service has increased, with a quarter of the food it has given out in the seven years since it opened being distributed in the last year alone.
Jon Wales, foodbank manager, said: “The number of people being referred to us has risen dramatically over the last two years in particular.
“We are seeing more people who are on low incomes, and lots of people who are struggling with the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
“Anyone can find themselves needing to use the foodbank. We see many people who say they never imagined they would need us.
“But we also see lots of people we help come back to us to donate food. We’re grateful to everyone who donates to us. It really makes a massive difference to people facing crisis situations.”
Hastings Foodbank said it is currently giving out more than a tonne of food a week, following an increase of 113 per cent in referrals since Universal Credit came to the town in December 2016 and a significant increase in people being referred due to low income.
People are referred to the foodbank by a number of organisations, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, health visiting teams, schools and housing associations.
Natalie Williams, who oversees community engagement for King’s Church, wrote last week for the Huffington Post about the anniversary.
She said: “Usually anniversaries are something we celebrate, but we certainly won’t be eating any cake or popping open champagne in Hastings. The fact our foodbank opened seven years ago upsets us. We wish we had never been needed. It’s shocking that we were, and it’s shocking that we still are.
“If we were blowing out candles today, we’d be wishing for a time when we could close our doors because no one needs our help any more.”
Items can be donated via the Hastings Foodbank baskets at King’s Church (Hastings Centre) or local branches of Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Nationwide and NatWest, as well as at Hastings town hall and the Tourist Information Centre. For more information, visit www.hastings.foodbank.org.uk.
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