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Canterbury Food Bank sees 350% rise as it faces 'unprecedented demand'

A food bank has seen a 350% rise in demand since last December as the pandemic leaves many struggling in the run-up to Christmas.

The number of people relying upon Canterbury Food Bank has increased sharply since last year, following the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

Canterbury Food Bank volunteers pack bags of food, in 2019. Picture: Paul Amos
Canterbury Food Bank volunteers pack bags of food, in 2019. Picture: Paul Amos

In the first 11 days of December alone, the charity has distributed more than 6,000 meals - a staggering rise from the 1,350 given out in the same period last year.

Food parcels for children have seen the biggest increase in demand, with more than five times as many distributed during this early December period than in 2019.

Food bank co-ordinator Angela Gardiner says rising heating costs and more children being at home due to the pandemic have contributed to this, alongside the direct financial impacts of the pandemic.

“We are experiencing very difficult times and seeing unprecedented demand," she said.

“We have all felt the economic pressure from the pandemic, but it is always the poorest in society who are hardest hit. This time of year is also difficult for people budgeting on a low income.

Canterbury Foodbank coordinator Angela Gardiner
Canterbury Foodbank coordinator Angela Gardiner

“Rising heating costs, more school children being taught from home during Covid and the demands of Christmas all bring their own pressure points.

“We ask everyone to remember those in need next time they are in a supermarket and to help them by making a donation.”

The independent charity provides emergency three-day food parcels to individuals and families in financial need across Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and surrounding villages.

Since the pandemic took hold in March, it has distributed more than 45,000 meals to people in financial crisis across the district.

It has also spent more than £28,000 on food to bolster items that are donated in supermarkets by the public.

The huge rise in demand has left Canterbury Food Bank running short of some items, such as tinned fish, corned beef, tinned ham, cereal, long life juice and rice pudding.

It has donation baskets in all leading supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, where people can leave dried or tinned food.

Anyone who can not afford to buy food can make contact via the Canterbury Food Bank website, or by ringing 01227 936450.

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