'No family should worry about where food comes from': Preston food banks to support struggling families this half term

With the October half term break looming, local food banks are gearing up to help more families who will need support, in light of the new cuts to Universal Credits.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 12:30 pm

Families in Preston who are worried about putting food on the table during the half-term holiday next week have places to turn for support in the city.

Local food banks, including Noor Foodbank, the Here for Humanity organisation and the Whitby Pantry at the Intact Centre are among those offering a hand to families who are struggling.

The news comes as the £20 Universal Credit uplift was scrapped earlier this month, with some local families telling the Post it often meant the "difference between eating and not eating".

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Local food banks and food support services are on hand to help during half term

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Many families rely on paid-for school meals to give their little ones hot meals during the week, but with the half-term looming, food banks and support centres say they expect to see a rise in demand.

Sadiq Patel, Trustee at Noor Foodbank, on Noor Street, said demand from new users has increased recently and they expect it to rise even more during the school holidays.

The service currently serves 40 families every week as well as offering support at a local woman's refuge centre.

Volunteers at Noor Foodbank in Preston expect to see a rise in demand

He said: "We’ve been operating for over three years and the demand has always been there, however lately the demand from existing and new users has increased. This could be down to a number of factors - furlough ending, loss of employment, universal credit cut, choosing heat over food etc.

"It is difficult for a number of families to feed their children during the half term and we do see an increase during these periods, we always ensure we provide enough food and a variety of food.

"No one should be going hungry and should not need to worry about where the next meal comes from. We’ve had schools getting in touch and we’ve provided food parcels to schools so they can distribute to these families.

"We are providing food parcels to people from all backgrounds and different age spectrums. We recently delivered to a pensioner who was having to choose between eating or heating. It is tough out there and we don’t see this demand easing.

Many families will have been hit by the Universal Credit cuts

"We are very grateful that the people of Preston have big hearts and donate generously so we can provide a first-class service to the service users through our dedicated volunteers.

"We have our foodbank trolley at Asda Fulwood, Booths Fulwood, Co-op on Garstang Road and Morrisons Deepdale donate weekly through customer donations. People can donate at these points or if they contact us via our website.

"If people are short of food then they can visit our website and apply for an emergency food parcel. Since the pandemic in March 2020, we have been delivering food across Preston, however, we will be opening back up for site visits each Monday from November 1. We are here to help those that need it and our amazing volunteers love nothing more than to help."

Chris Murray founder of Here for Humanity will be running the Kidz Eat First scheme

Similar scenes are expected at other local food bank services, including the Here for Humanity organisation, which was first set up by local man Chris Murray as a response to the pandemic.

He confirmed the service is receiving more referrals than ever currently and will be running the Kidz Eat First campaign aimed at helping feed children locally during half term - and they expect to serve 500 hot meals.

Chris added: "We will be running the campaign again after we ran it last October. It is aimed at self-employed people as well as those on benefits.

"Most school dinners campaigns by charities still focus on people on benefits and people who are self-employed but many still have no work due to the pandemic. Others are in a bubble that means they don't normally qualify for things a person on benefits would.

"We will be starting on October 25 from inside The Silk Route restaurant and will serve around 500 meals over the five days.

"It's hard at the moment because so many people are struggling. We are having to find more ways to raise money to meet the constantly rising demand."

Denise and volunteers at the Intact Whitby Pantry

Chief Executive Officer of the Intact Community Centre, Denise Hartley MBE, confirmed the centre will be running various schemes throughout the October half term, including their discounted Whitby Pantry and children's cooking sessions.

The centre offers support with fuel and debt for families and will also be running the Whitby's Cafe, offering hot meals for as little as £1.

The Whitbys Pantry initiative offers £25 of food to families for a weekly fee of just £3.50 - improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities.

Denise said: "We have had feedback from the service users that they are really bothered about finding things to do in the holidays that don’t cost anything.

"We are also seeing more people coming into the café for a brew and staying longer, in order to keep warm and save on their heating bills at home

"As all our services and activities are free, to attend, apart from the pantry and homemade meals, which are really cheap, people are definitely having to cut costs and are looking for free ways to save money during the holiday period."

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