Foodbanks in the Harborough district have reported a drop in donations over the last few weeks as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and people head off on their summer holidays.
Centres in Kibworth, Lutterworth, Market Harborough and surrounding villages are all appealing for supplies as donations reduce and shelves begin to empty.
Chair of the Jubilee Foodbank in Market Harborough Liz Mills, who received an MBE in 2021 for her work with the Jubilee foodbank, reports that this is a common seasonal pattern across the region.
"Food donations often drop from spring to summer as people start to go away on holiday and awareness sometimes decreases about the continued need in our community,” she said.
“Unsurprisingly, referrals rose dramatically during the first lockdown and although we haven’t seen the same high number of referrals as in April 2020, there are still many families and individuals in dire need of the assistance that the foodbank is able to offer.”
Liz reports that after a slight fall in referrals during the first half of the year demand is beginning to rise again as donations reduce. In addition, the school holidays can be a very challenging time for families on low incomes with children missing out on a free hot meal at school, an issue that has been championed by England footballer Marcus Rashford.
Caroline Geddes of The Well in Kibworth said: “With the school holidays now upon us in Leicestershire, we are particularly grateful for items of food that children would like such as healthy snacks: small juice cartons, dried fruit and small boxes of raisins. Pack-up foods are also appreciated as many families can’t afford to buy food when they are out and about with their children."
Caroline’s comments are echoed by Lucy Freeman of Lutterworth and Villages foodbank and Bruce Harrison of Leicester South foodbank who describes an ‘unprecedented’ amount of donations and support from organisations and individuals during lockdown.
Bruce said: “People who never thought they would use a food bank are asking for help. Families who until Covid felt food secure are struggling to put food on the table. Single parents are struggling to maximise their income and ensure their children have a nutritious meal at least once a week. As people return to some form of normality, we implore them not to forget that food banks continue to need their community’s support.”
The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of over 1,200 foodbanks, reported that a record number of 2.5 million emergency food parcels were given out between April 2020 and March 2021. The Trust estimates that in excess of 14 million people are living in poverty in the UK, including 4.5 million children.
Liz added: “We are very thankful to everyone who has taken the time to donate, but for many the economic effect is only just beginning to bite. One of the great things about the foodbank is that donations go directly to those in our communities who are most in need, so it is a great way to have a real impact on the quality of life of local people.”
Long life and/or tinned products are always welcomed by all foodbanks. Currently, these items are particularly in demand as stocks run low:
Jubilee, Market Harborough – tinned meat and chicken, sugar, coffee, crackers and tinned fruit. For the full list go to www.jubileefoodbankmh.ukThe Well at Kibworth - pasta sauce, tinned tomatoes, tea, coffee and tinned vegetables. See the full list on Facebook: @wellkibworth
Leicester South - tinned tomatoes, rice, soup, custard and sweetcorn. For the full list, go to www.leicestersouth.foodbank.org.ukLutterworth & Villages – sponge puddings and long life desserts, squash, UHT milk, tinned and packet meals and toiletries. For the full list go to www.lutterworthvillages.foodbank.org.ukThose wishing to donate can also check each foodbank’s social media pages as these will have the latest items in short supply.