Pop-up food bank is needed to support families at Christmas

Abigail Kelly, Toby Rutter (Head), Natalie Lawrence.
Abigail Kelly, Toby Rutter (Head), Natalie Lawrence.

A pop-up food bank has begun at Outwood Academy Hemsworth in the run up to Christmas.

The no-questions-asked emergency food bank will be open to all, and no names or details of those who need the food bank will be taken.

Amie Gyte, who works at the academy, said the food bank would support families who faced a gap in their benefits during December.

She said: “It’s the universal credit system.

“Families in this area are going to be without money for five weeks over the Christmas period, and we want to help them.

“As a trust we feel it is important to support our local communities in any way we can.”

It takes around five weeks for the first monthly payment of Universal Credit to be processed.

The benefit, a new type of payment for working people which merges six benefits into one, has been widely criticised, and was recently described in a report by the UN as a “harsh and arbitrary” system.

According to the Trussell Trust, a UK charity dedicated to ending hunger, more than half of referrals to a food bank between April and September 2018 were due to low income or benefit delays.

The Trust says that just eight per cent of claimants feel their Universal Credit award covers their full cost of living, and that 70 percent found themselves in debt while waiting for payment.

Earlier this year, St Catherine’s Church, in Wakefield, launched an emergency appeal after their food bank supplies dropped to a dangerously low level.

The church says that their food bank, which sees as many as 40 visitors every day, issues around 150 food parcels each week, and that numbers have increased as universal credit rolls out.

Angela Jones, the church’s volunteer coordinator, said: “We have conversations with people struggling to know when they’re going to get money, or worrying it will clash with a bank holiday.

“It’s had an effect already, but it’s going to get worse. We are seeing an increase in visitors each week.

“Thankfully we’ve also had an increase in donations. That doesn’t make the system okay but that’s what we’re here for.”

The food bank at Outwood Academy Hemsworth will run in The Hub from 4.30pm to 5.30pm on Monday, December 10, Monday December 17 and Thursday, December 20.

Dry foods, including cereal, tea and coffee, rice, pasta, biscuits and tinned food such as beans, soup and fruit are all required, and can be left at the academy’s reception, or sent to school with students.

Cash donations are also accepted, and will be used to purchase stock for the food bank.

Email A.Gyte@outwood.com for more information.

“Innovative and creative” solutions are needed to end hunger in the UK, a committee was told.

Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, which aims to eliminate food waste, told the Environmental Audit Committee that “everybody should have a basic provision of food, regardless of their situation.”

He said: “If we want to end hunger we need to feed everybody and make sure that everybody has the human right to have access to food. We waste so much of it in this country that we could feed everybody with just the waste alone.”