Donations to foodbanks in Suffolk dry up as cost-of-living crisis bites

Foodbank bosses in Suffolk say donations are falling as the cost-of-living crisis hits families.

Foodbank bosses in Suffolk say donations are falling as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit families. Pictured: Volunteers sorting donations at a foodbank in 2017. - Credit: ANTONY KELLY

Foodbanks in Suffolk have seen their donations dry up as the cost-of-living crisis causes families to tighten their belts.

Charity bosses across the county say that at a time when foodbanks are more in demand than ever, fewer people can afford to donate vital goods as spiralling inflation is leaving them with less disposable income.

One volunteer in Stowmarket called for people to donate goods so that the foodbank could continue to help people.

Grand opening of the new premises for the Stowmarket and Area Foodbank .It is the first time they ha

Hazel Smith at the Stowmarket and Area Foodbank in 2015. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Hazel Smith, one of the founders of Stowmarket and Area Foodbank, said requests for parcels from the foodbank had gone up to one of their highest ever levels, but donations had gone down.

She said: "People are really struggling at the moment. I would say our demand has gone as high again as when Covid first hit.

"There are all sorts of reasons why people need a parcel.

"We had an elderly person who needed some help because they didn't have fuel to get out to the shops and they needed food dropped off to them.

"If nothing else came in over the next few weeks, we would be having to shut the doors. Because the food stocks have got so low.

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"We've definitely got certain lines that we might run out of because they go into every single parcel."

Maureen Reynel MBE, founder of FIND foodbank in Ipswich

Maureen Reynel MBE, founder of FIND foodbank in Ipswich - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maureen Reynel, founder of Ipswich-based charity and foodbank FIND, said: "A lot of people who donate are those who haven't got too much to give in the first place. They've got to hold on to the money that they've got in their pocket so that they can pay for their own food – it's fully understandable.

"If people are genuine, we don't not feed them. I have wonderful people who support us with financial donations so we buy in more food. We're spending in the area of £1,000 every week to keep the stocks going.

"The people who usually give are finding it difficult to do so, so perhaps those people who have never given could find the capacity to give a little."

Sadie McCullough, food flow manager at the Trussell Trust which supports over 1,300 foodbanks, said "a decrease in donation levels and shortages of certain items" had been seen across their network.  

What donations do foodbanks need?

Maureen Reynel said her Ipswich-based foodbank had a "pasta mountain" and would prefer other items were donated.

Among these are basics such as sugar, tinned vegetables such as peas and carrots, jam, and long-life milk. ​​​​​

Hazel Smith asked for potatoes, tinned vegetables and tinned meats to be donated, but said the foodbank could not store perishable goods.

Sadie McCullough from the Trussell Trust said: “Food banks in our network have been overwhelmed by the public’s generous support over the pandemic, but the cost of living crisis means that demand is likely to go up and the volume of food, toiletries, and household items needed at some food banks could also increase.”

Information on what items Trussell Trust foodbanks in Suffolk are in need of can be found here.

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If you're struggling, you can speak to your local Citizens Advice centre on 0800 0683131, if you specifically want help with debts you can reach a local debt centre on 0800 3280006.