Worried headteachers are turning to food banks to help feed the city’s poorest children, it has been claimed.
Bosses at Dovedale Pride, who run a volunteer food parcel service in Ingol, say they have been contacted by two primary schools needing food donations to send home with youngsters.
They say the move, which they have never before experienced, comes as they face a growing number of people needing their help.
Lynn Fahy, who has been running the service for three years with Debbie Clegg, said: “The referrals are coming in thick and fast.
“This week we have supplied 20 food parcels to a school where the head teacher was very worried about children not getting enough food.
“In another school, a teacher became worried about a pupil missing school and, when they asked, were told it was because they couldn’t afford any food, but were too embarrassed to come into school without any dinner money.
“They were fortunate they were at a good school where they were able to talk to them.
“We sent two parcels urgently. That is unheard of. We haven’t done this in the past.
“These are children who do not qualify for free school dinners, but still can’t afford to eat.”
She insisted that parents weren’t to blame and said she believed changes in welfare reform and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ would make problems even worse.
Lynn said: “It is a car crash waiting to happen. And it is going to get a whole lot worse next year.
“This year we haven’t had as many people asking for gifts and toys. They are just telling us they need to heat and eat, and to forget the rest.
“I can’t say there is a target group. We have pensioners, single people who can only find part-time work, people who have been recently made redundant, and families where one person works and they are really trying their best.”
She also appealed for help providing heat and shelving to their new unit in Oyston Mill.
Anyone who can help is asked to call 07594 738344.
Elsewhere in Lancashire, the need for food parcels is also growing.
Carol Halton, of LivingWaters Church in Chorley, which runs a food bank of behalf of Church’s Together, a nine-church initiative, said: “The referrals are growing and growing.
“In the last week we have had 20. When we first started we had about six a month, and we are not talking that long ago. Right from the start we wanted to make sure we helped the people who needed it most, and we are fortunate in getting a lot of support from the community. But of course we always need more.”