School holidays have turned up the heat on Preston’s emergency food bank.
Demand from desperate families for grocery handouts has soared during the summer break, leading to acute shortages at the Salvation Army service in Harrington Street.
Now an appeal has gone out for more supplies to help feed the hungry mouths of children off school for up to six weeks.
“A lot of parents have been coming to us because of the school holidays,” said a spokesperson.
“Their children are at home for the summer and they are struggling to feed them.
“During term time many qualify for free school meals and that helps tremendously. But when they are at home on holiday they don’t get that.We are also seeing a lot of estranged fathers who have maybe got their children for a week or two during the summer and are suddenly in need of help.”
While stores of some items like soups, beans and pasta are plentiful, there are significant shortages of jars of pasta sauce, tinned tomatoes, packets of noodles, pot noodles, tinned fruit, coffee, bags of sugar and long life milk. Supplies of toiletries, shampoo, shower gel, soap powder and washing up liquid are also hitting critical levels.
The food bank helps up to 300 families a month and staff say demand is still growing, despite a slight upturn in the national economy.
“The problem isn’t getting any better, it’s getting worse,” said the spokesperson. “We have helped more than 900 people with food parcels so far this year. Many of those have families, which means the numbers are far higher.
“Last summer we ran an appeal through the Evening Post and the response was amazing. Hopefully the response this year will be just as great.”