Haverhill Foodbank, run by REACH Community Projects, says it is having to feed a record number of people
The presence of foodbanks in communities has become ‘normalised’, while the number of children being fed by the one in Haverhill is continuing to rise.
These are the findings of REACH Community Projects, which manages Haverhill Foodbank and has just released its latest figures.
They show that 1,032 people – 405 of them children –were fed through the distribution of food parcels between April and September this year.
For the same period in 2022, 997 people were fed – of which 360 were children.
The rise, says REACH, has been attributed to low income, especially from benefits such as Universal Credit, debt, health conditions, and issues with benefits payments from delays or sanctions, as the main reasons people were left with no option but to turn to a food bank for help.
The charity, alongside The Trussell Trust, is urging the Government to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to do more to protect households on the lowest incomes.
Community organiser at REACH, Saffron Carter, said the numbers highlight the need for an urgent change in the benefits system. “Around 90 per cent of low income households receiving Universal Credit are going without at least one essential like food, a warm home or toiletries.
“The current amount of UC is well below the cost people have to pay for all their essentials such as rent, energy bills, council tax, food and toiletries.”
“These statistics are extremely alarming. An increasing number of children are growing up in families facing hunger, forced to turn to foodbanks to survive.
“A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a foodbank in every community.
“This is not right. Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the nation’s health and hold back our economy.
“People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and forced to turn to a food bank to survive,” said Saffron.
In a draft report for the charity’s overall operations between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023, REACH CEO Henry Wilson said: “Sadly, our foodbank project numbers remain stubbornly high with a new record number of people fed for the year – 2,037, with little sign yet that the situation is likely to improve any time soon.
“It is a very small increase on last years’ figure of 2,005 people fed, but it’s the increase in the number of children that is the most concerning.
“More families are being sucked into financial crisis and hardship. In total, 947 food boxes were given out, 1,224 adults fed and 813 children.”
Vicky Chandler, warehouse manager at Haverhill Foodbank, said they are grateful for the generosity the community has shown through these difficult times but are now seeing a decline in the amount of food donations being received.
The charity is calling on people to donate if they can – whatever donation, big or small, can make a difference.
“We were delighted that people, including many schools and churches in the area were able to support us over the Harvest period, but as we face Christmas, an an increase in people needing food, we would urge people to think about donating if they are able.
“Just one item would make a huge difference,” said Vicky.
A list of the food currently needed is available on their website at www.reachhaverhill.org.uk along with a list of their donation points.
To support The Trussell Trust ‘Guarantee our Essentials’ campaign to support a rise in the basic rate of Universal Credit visit www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/campaigns/guarantee-our-essentials/