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Soaring demand for help from families this summer means the shelves at Kidderminster food bank are at critically low levels – triggering an appeal for more supplies.

Today Wyre Life has joined forces with the food bank to spread the word and urge residents to “Fill The Food Bank”.

We hope together we can restock the shelves this week so families and individuals who need emergency support can get it.

Charity trustee Denise Carson said it would be amazing if the wonderful people of Wyre Forest could support their end of summer push.

“Our stocks are really low right now for some products, so any help people can afford to give would be much appreciated. We want to ensure those in need have a good selection of appetising and nutritional foods to see them through periods of extreme hardship.”

Over the summer demand went up significantly, mainly because of a concerted effort to reach the families of children who receive free school meals.

Working closely with schools, the Food Bank team identified families who are normally entitled to free school meals and invited them to visit the foodbank for free lunches and weekly food boxes to ensure they could feed their children.

“There has been extra demand this summer. We were in contact with schools before the holidays, who identified families who they knew might struggle over the long break.”

Around 25 families, many who’d never visited the food bank before, were able to take part in the project.

The Trussell Trust, which manages the food bank network, said: “There is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays for families who rely on free school meals during term time. Last year’s report from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger estimated the loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings.”

What does the food bank need?

Stocks are running unusually low of basic items including tinned and fresh vegetables and fruit, tinned fish and meats, squash and pop, biscuits and crisps. Cereals, soup, sugar and rice are also required, along with foods for special diets including gluten-free. Toiletries, including sanitary wear, toilet rolls, washing and cleaning products are also in high demand.

While the bank is currently well stocked with baked beans, dried pasta and pasta sauces these are also included in every food box so are always needed.

The food bank also tries to feed family pets so also takes in donations of cat and dog food.

Donations can be taken straight to the food bank, which is located at the back of Baxter Church in Bullring, Kidderminster (next to Blunt’s shoe shop and opposite Crown House). The food bank is open Monday and Wednesday, 12.30-3.30pm, and Friday, 9.30-3.30pm.

There are also donation points at several local supermarkets including Tesco in Kidderminster, Co-op in Stourport, and Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in Stourbridge.

Throughout this week, donations can also be dropped off at Gil’s tearooms in the heart of Wolverley, next to the Queen’s Head pub. 

Owner Gil Hancox said: “I’m very happy to help and will be encouraging customers and villagers to do what they can to help.”  He posted the appeal on the tearooms’ Facebook page on Sunday night and generous customers immediately responded with offers of help.

The food bank is supported through the year by a wide range of organisations, including many of the district’s churches. Many schools also donate food collected during harvest celebrations and at special times of the year, particularly Christmas.

Last year it gave out 2,861 three day packs of emergency food to individuals and families from its Kidderminster base.

Those in need are given food vouchers by organisations including the district council hub at the Town Hall, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, social services, health organisations and others.

Those in particularly dire need can also turn up without a voucher and they will be supported.

The food bank also offers a welcoming place to sit and chat over a cup of tea for those who are struggling.

“We always want to ensure that people leave here feeling better than when they came in,” said Denise. “We know it can be difficult for some to say they need help but there is absolutely no shame in it – we all need a helping hand at some points in our lives.”

The Trussell Trust charity is calling for better support for families to be in place throughout the year by unfreezing child benefits and making changes to work allowances so families keep more of their earnings before Universal Credit payments are reduced.

The Trussell Trust’s policy briefing on families, hunger and the holidays is available here.

Jane Haynes
Former newspaper journalist and news editor, turned public sector PR, now studying for a Master's in multiplatform journalism. Wyrelife is a new, local investigative news website for Kidderminster, Bewdley, Stourport and Wyre Forest. My aim is to hold people and organisations to account to try to make my little bit of England a better informed, better place.