Community News

Christmas fears as demand doubles at food banks

Graham Robson December 9, 2022

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership (BHFP) is hoping people will join their city-wide #foodsos campaign, as food banks report record numbers on the run up to Christmas.

According to BHFP, local organisations and businesses could be a “crucial vehicle for emergency action as fears grow that the sudden drop in temperature could push thousands into food insecurity”.

Led by BHFP, the Food SOS campaign is calling for city businesses and organisations to join a city-wide campaign to raise funding or organise food collections at their place of work to donate to local food banks/projects.

Organisations that have joined the campaign include Brighton & Hove City Council, the Old Market, SpecSavers in Hove, Varndean College and Net Natives. It is hoped more organisations will join in.

In a release, BHFP said: “The biggest challenge now is that there is a huge demand for support whilst food donations have reached an all-time low with many food banks now spending hundreds of pounds a week to top-up dwindling stock levels.

“This level of expenditure is unsustainable in the long term and could force many food banks into making difficult decisions, like closing their doors on new referrals, or rationing the amount of food they offer to users, or worse still closing altogether.”

Helen Starr-Keddle, Project Manager of BHFP, added: “In the last few weeks we have had our phones ringing off the hook from people who have absolutely no food in the house and no money to purchase anything.

“This Christmas is going to be particularly brutal for hard-hit families trying to make ends meet. Food bank workers are exhausted and overwhelmed with no end in sight. If you can afford to help, please do.”

Findings show thousands of people in Brighton & Hove now depend on week-in week-out support from charities to meet their everyday food needs. Figures from the city’s Emergency Food Network
annual survey reveal a 69% drop in money and food donations, leaving charities struggling to meet demand.

Mike Jourdain from Brighton & Hove Food Bank, said: “We are really grateful for the generosity of people in our city without which we would not have been able to support the 1,800 residents we have looked after this year. However, we are seeing so many more people coming to our door – now 250 people a week or around 125 households.

“We are buying in 50% of the food we are giving out – £1,500 a week is unsustainable and we are concerned how this will impact on our work in 2023. We are also concerned if other smaller food banks in the city are forced to close.’

The Food SOS campaign initially started out with local Brighton & Hove schools to instigate food donations to local food banks through their harvest festival collection. Now, businesses are the main focus with the hope that more companies can support a local food bank with a one-off food donation
or in some cases a regular tie-in to support on an ongoing basis.

The Food Partnership has a range of digital resources to support an organisation in running their collection to secure donations for local food projects. This includes templates for posters, leaflets
and social media as well as suggested food bank shopping lists. In addition, the Food Partnership has created a range of booklets with information around saving money on food.

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