A shocking rise in the number of children seeking help from Stratford Foodbank has raised concerns that the situation will only get worse during the school holidays.
Last week the organisation revealed that the average number emergency food parcels distributed to children each month has risen to 177, compared to 64 for the same period last year.
The Foodbank is so worried that it is partnering up with a number of organisations across the town to create a package of support for parents and carers during the summer months.
This will see the foodbank raise awareness of the efforts being made by other groups in the town.
These include the ‘Make Lunch Club’ which provides free hot meals and fun activities for children during the school holidays, Stratford Uniform Bank, Stratford’s ‘Little Bird’ Baby Bank and the Caterpillar Café, which provides support to struggling families in the town.
Community eating opportunities offered by many of Stratford’s churches, will be promoted.
Stratford Foodbank Manager Marion Homer said: “The increasing demand for our service continues to be a major concern. We are providing 83% more children’s parcels this year than last – in a seemingly prosperous town like Stratford on Avon there are many families who do not have enough money to cover the basics – this is totally unacceptable.
“In 2017 we saw Universal Credit roll out in Stratford, this was accompanied by an increase in foodbank demand by 57 per cent. Two years on and we are still seeing a staggering rise in need. Many families in receipt of Universal Credit have one or both partners in employment, but wages are simply not covering the basics of family life. We believe that advance payments, the loans offered by the DWP during the five weeks wait for Universal Credit, are pushing many local families into hardship.
“Unfortunately we know there is potential for this situation to worsen during the school holidays. We see a rise in demand at the end of the summer as families prepare for what can be a costly time preparing for the new school year. That is why we are partnering with organisations in town who provide additional support to families, to ensure we are signposting effectively to them.
“As a recently elected member of ‘Stratford Churches Together’ we are proud to support the churches in our town as they launch the ‘Make Lunch Club’, a free meals summer holiday project. We are also working closely with the Uniform Bank, the Baby Bank and the Caterpillar Café who provide fresh food to families in need.”