Children relying on Letchworth foodbank over Christmas

Foodbanks have been holding events around Stevenage to boost stocks this Christmas

Foodbanks have been holding events around Stevenage to boost stocks this Christmas - Credit: Archant

Children are having to turn to handouts to avoid going hungry over the Christmas holidays, according to the organiser of a foodbank.

Letchworth Foodbank, which helps those living in Letchworth GC, Hitchin and Baldock, has fed 1,586 people – 637 of which were children – since opening in October last year.

The foodbank’s treasurer, Brian Attwood, said: “A local primary school told us they’ve given out six or seven food vouchers for Christmas Eve and December 27 to families whose children recieve free school meals.

“Obviously, this is a big increase on what we normally do. In the last few weeks we’ve seen an increase in the number of larger families coming to the foodbank, we even had a family of eight come in recently.”

Mr Attwood added that the foodbank has been “well stocked” for Christmas thanks to the generosity or residents, churches and surrounding businesses.

The Stevenage Community Food Bank (SCF), which serves those living in Stevenage and Knebworth, also revealed demand has grown to unprecedented levels.

John Mead, chairman of SCF, said: “Raising donation level is a continuing challenge. The day-to-day donations for the ordinary foodbank we receive every week from around the town cover two thirds of what we give out each week.”

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A Christmas hamper appeal was organised at the start of the month with food drives held at supermarkets, schools and community centres.

Writing on social networking site Twitter, the foodbank tweeted: “(It is the) busiest night ever at the foodbank. 45 families fed and also given a bag of festive food thanks to our hampers appeal. Thank you Stevenage.”

The issue was debated in Parliament last week after the Labour Party brought forward a motion calling on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks.

However it was defeated by 294 votes to 251 with North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald – the only MP in Comet country to vote – opposing the motion.

Mr Heald said; “The reason that Coalition MPs disagreed strongly with the motion was because the food bank movement is international and since 2000 has grown strongly in the UK with all party support, including a tenfold increase under the last Government. Food banks are a feature in several wealthy countries such as Germany and Canada.

“On average, people in the UK use food banks 3 times to cover periods of temporary hardship. In Germany, a richer country than ours, 6 million use food banks each year. The people who use food banks are not all benefit claimants, but include many people in temporary need. The food bank in Letchworth is giving valuable help to residents.”Letchworth Foodbank meets every Tuesday and Friday between 10am to midday at both Mrs Howard Memorial Hall in Letchworth GC and Hitchin Scout Hall.

Email info@letchworth.foodbank.org.uk or call 07580 184586 for more information.

SCF is open every Friday at Stevenage Borough Council’s offices between 6-8pm. For enquires email stevenagecommunityfoodbank@gmail.com

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