However, Stratford’s manager Richard Jackson told the Herald the branch has quickly become “vitally important” to struggling members of the community.

From April 2013 to March 2014 the charity handed out more than 1,200 food parcels – 255 for children – and the number of hungry people asking for help is on the rise.

Over half of the food bank users needed help because of changes or delays to their welfare benefits, whereas a fifth of people (21%) visited the food bank because of low income.

Mr Jackson said the rising cost of living in Stratford was a “very real issue” for his users.

Despite the difficulties being faced by some of the poorest members of the community, he said the food bank is an example of how Stratford has come together to help those in crisis.

“We have been amazed by the generosity of all sections of the local community which has enabled the food bank to provide the service that it does,” he said.

“We are so grateful to so many people. Major funders such as the Stratford Town Trust; companies such as DCS Europe, Tesco and Waitrose; local churches, charities and organisations; individual members of the community who have donated either food or money and, of course, our brilliant volunteers.

“All these people have made vital contributions to ensure that no-one need go hungry in Stratford and it is a perfect example of local people working together to find a local solution to a local problem.”

Stratford food bank has two distribution centres – Holy Trinity Parish Centre which is open on Tuesdays, and the United Reformed Church in Rother Street on Fridays.

Food is given to people in crisis identified by front line care professionals such as doctors, social workers, and the citizen’s advice bureau.

Donations can be handed in at the two distributions centres or one of the permanent collection points at Tesco on Birmingham Road or Waitrose on Shipston Road.

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