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Coronavirus Kent: Demand at Canterbury Food Bank quadruples

Demand has quadrupled at a Kent food bank in the past week as more and more families seek help during the coronavirus crisis.

With a number of businesses forced to close as a result of the pandemic, some experts fear unemployment in Britain could double in the coming months.

KMTV reports on the story

And it seems many people are already falling on hard times. Last week, Canterbury Food Bank distributed 2,200 meals - four times its weekly average.

The charity blames the Covid-19 outbreak for the huge increase and only expects the pressure to grow.

Food bank chairman Martin Ward is urging the public to continue donating to its coronavirus appeal and at supermarkets where possible.

“These are difficult times for everyone and we know that things are likely to get significantly worse before they improve," he said.

“The response to our appeal has been extraordinary and shows what can be achieved when society pulls together.

“But in the last two weeks it has become clear that we are going to need many, many more contributions than normal to help us through this crisis.

“We ask you to help us help those who can not afford to eat by donating cash or food whenever you can.”

Canterbury Food Bank volunteers pack food parcels
Canterbury Food Bank volunteers pack food parcels

The food bank has used the £17,000 already raised from its appeal to buy food and household goods.

But stockpiling by supermarket shoppers is still limiting the charity's lines of supply.

It urgently needs stocks of pasta sauce, tinned potato, tinned carrots, corned beef, tinned ham, jam, tinned rice pudding and tinned fruit.

The food bank provides food parcels to people in need in Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and surrounding villages.

It has donation baskets at supermarkets across the district. To donate to its appeal click here.

Across the county, demand for help from food banks is rising.

Volunteers from Canterbury Food Bank, where demand has quadrupled
Volunteers from Canterbury Food Bank, where demand has quadrupled

Swale Food Bank (SFB), which serves Sittingbourne, surrounding villages and the Isle of Sheppey, has seen demand for its services double amid the coronavirus outbreak, and they are serving more than 200 people a week at present.

SFB project manager Esther Hurwood said: "Our demand has doubled in the first week, which was stressful for our volunteers on the ground. Donations have dropped as fewer people are going out, and many volunteers have had to step back because of health conditions.

"But we are meeting the challenge head-on, and we are now delivery-only. People contact us, give us their details and we deliver food to home, it's a no-contact service.

"There has been some confusion about what we can provide. People were coming to us because they were self-isolating, and they did not know where to go to get food.

"But our model is that we only feed those with no money and no food. If people are having trouble accessing food, then they should contact the council community hubs."

Meanwhile, March has been Dover Food Bank's second busiest month ever - up 62% compared to the same period last year.

More than 150 volunteers work across the eight food bank centres in Medway (32722569)
More than 150 volunteers work across the eight food bank centres in Medway (32722569)

And in Medway police are increasing their presence at food banks after concerns were raised for the safety of staff and stock during the pandemic.

A spokesman for Medway Food Bank said: "We have seen a huge increase in demand for our services as well as a demand to support those who are vulnerable and self-isolating.

"We are hugely grateful to the kind public in Medway for their superb ongoing donations of food and funds, and those volunteers who have been helping in so many different ways.

"Please ask to donate food items at Tesco and Asda as our donation points may not be out on public display any longer but you can still donate food items and look on our website, Facebook or Twitter for our current food needs.

"You can also donate food by using the Spareable app and we are getting deliveries through from them, funds can be donated via the Learn More button on Facebook or by using the Donate button on our website"

Morrisons has announced it is giving away £10 million worth of goods to food banks across the country.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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