Food banks issue dire warnings as demand outstrips supplies

Some of Croydon’s biggest and busiest food banks have issued a stark warning of how the cost of living crisis is already affecting some of the borough’s most vulnerable families.

Empty shelves: volunteers from food banks around Croydon are expressing concern that they are running low on supplies while requests for help increase

“We are facing really dire times,” Julia Lee, the leader of the Purley Food Hub’s client support team, told an audience at the organisation’s annual meeting last week.

“Needs are increasing while resources are reducing,” Lee said, according to a report on the Hub’s website.

Lee spoke of harrowing circumstances for some families, with parents regularly going without food so that their children could eat.

“This is the worst situation many of us have seen in our lifetime,” she said. “In the past year, our client support team has helped over 150 clients, offering advice and signposting them to specialist agencies.

“Over the next few months, it’s going to get even harder as food prices go up and up and energy bills soar.”

Louise Willmer, the Food Hub’s stock controller, said, “In the last few weeks we have already had several sessions busier than last Christmas, which was our busiest period ever.”

The Purley meeting was attended by volunteers from other food banks across the borough. Most had similarly concerning accounts of how circumstances are getting worse for many of the people that they try to help.

“Times are getting harder and people are really desperate,” according to Sam Pearson from the St Francis Food Stop in Monks Hill.

“We now have 35 to 40 families a week using the Food Stop – that’s around 150 people being fed.”

Like other food banks, the Monks Hill Food Stop has made good use of FareShare, an organisation that distributes to charities surplus food from supermarkets and the hospitality sector.

“While demand is going up, our stocks from FareShare have declined dramatically,” Pearson said.

Emma Spencer, from The Vine Food Bank in New Addington, said: “We too have seen the numbers go up significantly. We currently have 80 to 100 people using the food bank, including quite a few families who have no recourse to public funds, and we have also had a stream of ladies who have been trafficked.”

‘People are really desperate’: Sam Pearson, from Monks Hill

Trevor Jones, Purley Food Hub’s chair of trustees, told the meeting, “We have been blessed with fantastic support, and thanks to the generosity of our donors we have been able to support Purley Food Stop at Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church, Croydon Nightwatch, Croydon Refugee Day Centre and two charity organisations in Thornton Heath, as well as St Francis Food Stop and The Vine.

“Money donations over the year have exceeded the cost of running the Food Hub, though we expect these to decrease over the coming year as people really start to feel the pinch of rising food and energy costs.

“However, we are a food hub as well as a food bank, and want to be able to support others around us and not just ourselves.

“We will continue to do that as long as we are able.”

To discover more about the Purley Food Hub, to volunteer or donate, click here to visit their website.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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