More families using food banks

Nick Waterfield.
Nick Waterfield.
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The number of people relying on food banks in Sheffield has increased dramatically in the last year, according to city charities.

Increasing costs and falling incomes are being blamed for the rise.

Nick Waterfield, a community worker from Parson Cross Initiative – PXI – said the number of people using the food bank he volunteers at has trebled in a year.

He said: “In the first three months of this year, we had seen as many people as the whole of 2012.

“The numbers using us have gone up three-fold.”

The PXI food bank, which works in partnership with Mount Tabor Methodist Church, provides emergency food for 10 people referred to them a week.

The bank relies on public food and money donations.

The Sheffield Food Bank Network, a group of 20 voluntary agencies that share food, information and storage facilities, said there had been a ‘marked increase’ in usage.

Co-chair Rob Draft said: “All the food banks in our network are seeing a marked increase in the numbers using the service.

“With the increase in food prices and the way social services are being cut, there are some folk that are falling through the net.

“People are coming to us who wouldn’t have done a few years ago.”

A national report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty found that about 500,000 people were reliant on food banks.

Currently, there are about 11 food bank services in operation in Sheffield.

Michelle Taurins, from the New Hope food bank, said: “We are seeing a week-on-week increase in the amount of food parcels going out for various reasons.

“For some people it’s because they have lost their job, for some it’s to do with the benefits and for some it’s because they have been turned down by crisis loans.”

In the first week of April, 940 meals were provided by New Hope for 44 people.

The group is looking at ways of funding, including setting up a food bank café.