By Kris Jepson
Newcastle's West End Foodbank has told ITV News that demand for food parcels could treble the number last year, due to the impact coronavirus is having on the economy.
The foodbank has seen a 200% increase in demand between April and July, compared to the same period last year.
In the year up to 31 March 2020, the foodbank issued 12,000 food parcels, feeding 32,000 people and used 122,741 tonnes of food.
It expects that by the end of the financial year up to 60,000 people may have benefited from its service.
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The Newcastle West End Foodbank has just extended its service to cater for residents in the East End of the city. It has partnered with charities and organisations to help deliver food parcels to those most in need.
John McCorry, who runs the foodbank, said the impact of the coronavirus has resulted in more families needing help and he expects the numbers to increase. "The number of people could essentially treble on what we were dealing with last year. Where the numbers are increasing are families maybe on the margins anyway in terms of poverty and income and that’s really been compounded I think by the fact the people have been furloughed. We’re also finding an increase in men coming to use the food bank"
The likelihood is that we would see, if it continued, that maybe over 60,000 people will be fed from the food parcels this year, but we’re hopeful that will not be the case.
One of the charities who are benefiting from the foodbank's extended service is the Byker Food Pantry, which is run by the Life Vineyard Church.
The project helps families reduce their grocery bills by selling food at below retail prices and issuing food vouchers to families in need.
David Bass, who is a Senior Pastor at the church, told ITV News there has been a significant decline in people using the Pantry during lockdown and that the partnership with the foodbank will make a huge difference.
People didn’t even have the funds to come and spend any sort of money in this project and so being able to bolt on a food bank and then help people transition into the Pantry has just been massively helpful. You know, we’re beginning to see that now. We’ve been giving out parcels to people, we’re giving them vouchers to access this project and now we’re seeing them transition in.
William Lopez is an asylum seeker from El Salvador. He moved to the North East in February, just as the pandemic was taking hold of the country.
He said the foodbank has been a vital resource, as sourcing food and clothing has been difficult during the lockdown, particularly with little money available to him.
When we come here, we don’t have money. It’s a very difficult situation. We need food, but the food bank is very important so we can get help with more food or more meals.