So many people are turning to a food bank that stocks are running low.
Maidstone Christian Care, which runs a centre for the homeless in Knightrider Street, has put out an urgent call for more donations.
Staff provide a hot meal six days a week for homeless people and an evening packed meal. The charity is also responsible for Food For Thought, which collects food from supermarkets and makes up parcels for those in need at home.
But in the last year the number of people needing the emergency packages has doubled.
Maidstone Christian Care, which began life as a soup run in 1986, is featured each year in the Kent Messenger’s well supported You Can Help campaign, which collects thousands of cans of food.
But trustee Angela Clay said: “Our food supplies are very low. In spite of the fact that the economic situation is, so we hear, getting better – it is not in our area, judging by the increase in people coming to us.” There is no sugar, biscuits, tins of fruit, custard, rice pudding, Pot Noodles. Stocks of baked beans and tea are low. There is also no crisps, snacks or individual drinks for packed meals.
The centre, run with five staff, receives referrals for help from 52 organisations, including social services. In the last three weeks it has supplied 32 food parcels to single people and 11 to families.
Packages are supplemented by fresh food and bread from supermarkets. But even that is not staving off the crisis.
Mrs Clay revealed one reaction of a recipient. A family had become desperate after being declared bankrupt. The mother had turned down flowers in the bundle but the volunteers who delivered to her said: “We persuaded her she is special and included the flowers. She was tearful and most grateful. We will provide support for them next week too.”
If you can help with a donation or help deliver packages call the centre on 01622 674064.