Doncaster food banks facing closure

Sean Gibbons with volunteers, from left, Elsie Jespson, Glenys Gosden ad Stephen Hardwick at the food bank at St James Church which is under threat of closure
Sean Gibbons with volunteers, from left, Elsie Jespson, Glenys Gosden ad Stephen Hardwick at the food bank at St James Church which is under threat of closure
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Three food banks - which offer vital support to thousands of families struggling on the breadline - are due to close.

The outlets in Mexborough, Intake and Balby Bridge could all shut within weeks, while others in Thorne and Maltby also face an uncertain future.

The food banks have dished out more than 5000 food hampers to those in need over the last couple of years - but project leaders Food AWARE claim they face closure because of a lack of financial support from Doncaster Council.

Managing Director Sean Gibbons, aged 41, of Park Road, Mexborough, said: “We can’t operate on thin air, we need support and it hasn’t been there. I’m gutted.”

The Mexborough Food Bank in Pastures Road will close on May 1 - just six months after launching.

The bases at the Intake Wellness Centre and St James’ Church in Balby Bridge have been handed an emergency fund of about £600 by Doncaster Council to continue until the end of April. However, they will shut unless additional funds are offered.

Food AWARE also offers weekly food packages to the Thorne and Moorends Food Group (TMFG) and runs another food bank at St Mary Magdalene Church in Maltby. But they could be forced to withdraw support for both unless funding comes in. A previous food bank in Addison Road, Maltby, was also shut in April after struggling financially.

Mr Gibbons said: “We ask for a £2.50 donation in return for food parcels but this isn’t enough to sustain us. We have had Lottery funding in the past but we need an annual package from Doncaster Council. We have to pay deliveries and buying in the food. Demand is on the increase but we can’t meet the costs.”

He added Rotherham and Sheffield Councils offer about £60, 000 between them to help local food banks each year - but added Doncaster doesn’t have the same policy.

Mr Gibbons said: “We need about £10, 000 a year. I’ve had numerous meetings with council officials but they won’t offer it.”

Karen Johnson, assistant director of communities, said the council made more than £5000 available to food banks in 2014 but added it is “down to individual groups to ensure their delivery model is sustainable.”