'Scary thought': Cannock Food Bank expects demand to surpass pandemic levels

Numbers of families going hungry and demand for help paying gas bills are expected to rise to levels seen during the height of the Covid pandemic crisis.

Victoria Pinter and Daniel Regan are appealing for donations to Cannock Food Bank in Chadsmoor
Victoria Pinter and Daniel Regan are appealing for donations to Cannock Food Bank in Chadsmoor

For food banks determined to stay afloat despite dips in donations coming in there is expected to be an increase in the number of residents calling in for assistance in the next few months.

Cannock Food Bank said its food stocks are running low and is appealing for donation of goods and cash in preparation for a busy autumn and winter period exacerbated by soaring energy bills.

In the period December 2021-August 2022 the project had fed 4,837 adults and children which equates to 39,375 meals, compared to 6,522 people between December 2020 to November 2021.

The food bank’s project leader Adam Tilsley said: “We are on course to probably exceed those numbers by November. The majority of people we see are in the low income bracket whose income has been affected by benefit payment changes.

“In the coming months a lot of people are going to be hit. It’s quite a scary thought.

“We will do what we can to help as many people as we can. Our supplies are down by a tonne compared to the same quarter last year. We do need more donations. Those using pre-pay metres and those on direct debit are getting the most impact from rising bills.

“We’re awaiting an announcement from the next Prime Minister to hear about what support there will be for those on low incomes.”

The service was recently blessed with the delivery of 2.5 tonnes of food by the town’s Asda.

The food bank was set up by churches in the district in 2012 and will be marking it’s 10th anniversary on December 1. It operates in Cannock, Norton Canes, Heath Hayes, Hednesford, Penkridge, Featherstone, Huntington, Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley areas.

“Organised from Pye Green Christian Centre the food bank is run in partnership with all the local churches with donations of food and money.

“We are here to help anybody who requires our support. We don’t discriminate and we’re also faith based operating on the under motto ‘What would Jesus do?’

"Which leads to the biblical principles of feeding the hungry and providing clothing to those in need. Simply doing what we can with the resources at our disposal.

“We will need more donations and we particularly need cash to cover the cost of our fuel voucher scheme,” he said.

In addition to collecting and distributing food and toiletries under a referral scheme via vouchers supplied by the statutory agencies, the project also operates a discount clothing shop where items cost £1, a discretionary fuel top-up voucher scheme to prevent clients from falling into fuel poverty and an advice room for agencies to hold private meetings with residents.

Clients arrive with referrals which are provided by about 120 agencies serving the Cannock Chase and South Staffordshire communities including the councils, Citizens Advice Bureaux and mental health teams.

Cannock and District Food Bank is based at Coniston Hall, Cecil Street, Chadsmoor. To donate call 01543 624887.

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