Surge in demand forces food bank to appeal for more space

Packed shelves at Lewisham Foodbank. Pic. Jack Friend

42.5% rise in food bank usage has left Lewisham Foodbank appealing for more storage space in the run-up to Christmas.

The charity moved into larger facilities on November 7 but say they are already struggling to store donations as demand continues to rise. 

Sarah Vitty, a Project Manager at Lewisham Foodbank told Eastlondonlines: “At the moment we are managing to meet the need but it is a constant challenge.”

The charity has struggled with food donations particularly, telling ELL they have been forced to supplement donated food by buying 40% of their stock. This has cost the charity ‘around £10,000 a month.’

“Five years ago we were looking at a couple of hundred people a week maximum and now we are feeding 600-800 people a week.”

Lewisham has seen demand for food banks rise 40 percent since last year.

Lewisham Foodbank is currently the Mayor’s charity of the year in Lewisham and in August of this year, Lewisham council and Lewisham Local announced they had jointly awarded nearly £90,000 in support to community food projects in the borough.

Despite this, Vitty warned if the situation got any worse Lewisham Foodbank may not be able to cope.

In recent years, the food bank has relied heavily on support from schools, churches, and local companies as well as fundraising events by members of the local community.

Donations at Lewisham Foodbank. Pic. Jack Friend

Other Lewisham charities are also preparing for a tough Christmas to ensure nobody goes hungry. 

In a statement on Lewisham council website Councillor Juliet Campbell, Lewisham Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Refugees and Wellbeing, said: “We’re lucky to have some fantastic voluntary organisations in the borough who have gone the extra mile to put food on people’s plates. We know that these organisations are feeling the pinch, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support so many of them with grant funding.” 

For others though, including Ashley Venables, a charity funding officer from Lewisham: “the government should be doing more to help support people.”

Lewisham Foodbank are part of the Trussell Trust who have over 1,300 food banks. In Lewisham, their facilities include five distribution centres and one central warehouse where donations can be made.

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