Food banks in Derbyshire offer a stark insight into their efforts to ensure children do not go hungry this summer
Food banks in Derbyshire that are working with Central England Co-op to tackle holiday hunger among youngsters this summer have provided a rare and shocking glimpse at the scale of its efforts to keep people from going hungry.
High Peak Food Bank and Belper Food Bank have offered the insight into their work as part of the Summer Support for Kids campaign.
This scheme, which runs until September, is an annual drive to collect vital food items to support those impacted by holiday hunger in local Co-op stores and, for the first time, is urging people to donate items such as arts, crafts and school supplies to help kids with their school work and keep them occupied during the summer months.
Now, to put the situation into perspective, staff from both food banks have revealed why they are pleading with people to donate vital food and essentials during the coming months.
Jo Lambourne, from Hope for Belper Food Bank, said: “Here in Belper in the first 12 weeks of the year we helped on average 20 families/individuals per week, while in the 12 weeks following (i.e. once the official lockdown began) this increased to 30 families/individuals a week and is still steadily increasing.
“Over the last 10 years that we have been running the food bank often sees an increase in families requiring support/additional, ongoing support over the summer holidays due to the issue of holiday hunger.
“We would want to say a huge thank you to all who have continued to donate during these difficult times and remind them to please continue doing so as the effects of COVID-19 are going to be long lasting for families/individuals who find themselves in difficulty.
“Our most needed items are toilet roll, tooth brushes, meals in a tin and puddings.”
High Peak Food Bank revealed it has seen the number of food parcels it hands out rise from 30 a week to 150 during the pandemic.
A spokesman said: “Please continue to donate to High Peak Foodbank to support people across the High Peak and northern Derbyshire Dales who are struggling following the aftermath of the recent wave of the pandemic. We are expecting more demand for food bank parcels as furlough schemes are wound down.
“We need tinned meat, tinned pies, tinned tomatoes, biscuits and dried packet meals.”
The appeal will run from now until September and all customers and members have to do is drop items off in special collection points located in every store.
Items that can be donated include shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products. Also, food banks have requested drinks for children, as well as vital sun cream and after sun.
For the first time this year other items needed include small arts and crafts items such as crayons and paints, as well as school supplies such as pencil cases and stationery.
The retailer has been running its summer campaign to tackle holiday hunger for the past two years, resulting in over 300,000 donations and nearly 80,000 packages of food and essentials being handed out.
It will also be donating £100,000 to its food redistribution partner FareShare Midlands who will be providing food and resources to children over the summer months, plus they will also be campaigning to see a change in Government policy to provide better support for those in need.
On average, FareShare Midlands says it costs around £1.80 to create a healthy and nutritious meal for a child. This would mean the six-figure donation could provide over 50,000 meals during the coming months.
Research by FareShare Midlands, based on local authority statistics, has revealed that across the 16 counties Central England Co-op trades 1,163,134 children are currently living in poverty and face being impacted by holiday hunger - only 25% of which are actually accessing any kind of support such as free school meal vouchers reinforcing the call that more needs to be done to help.
Notes to editors
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.
Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish.
Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.
We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.
Visit www.centralengland.coop for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood
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