Region's food banks braced for demand to surge again in new year

Food banks are 'busier than ever before' this Christmas – and bosses are concerned demand will be higher still in 2021.

Jen Coleman of Black Country Food Bank
Jen Coleman of Black Country Food Bank

Tens of thousands of emergency food parcels have been handed out to families across the Black Country and Staffordshire since the pandemic began – with food bank chiefs seeing a huge rise in demand.

Back in November they predicted this would only get worse as Christmas got closer – and now with just days to go until December 25, they say they are busier than they have ever been before.

Jen Coleman, CEO of the Black Country Food Bank, said the generosity of local people had been "absolutely mind-blowing" this Christmas – but she was concerned the problem wouldn't disappear after the festive season was over.

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She said: "We've had a lot more people, people who would never imagine they would need to use a food bank. A lot of society tipped over from surviving to not surviving – it has been very difficult financially. People have become unemployed or had delayed benefit claims.

"We're definitely busier than ever before. Without a doubt we've seen more people, and we're having to open our centres longer hours.

"What I can say though is that the generosity of the people of the Black Country has been absolutely mind blowing. We have been inundated with donations and help, it's like nothing we've ever seen.

"Every Christmas is busy but this year, we've had people drop stuff off every 10 minutes. It's just incredible."

The food bank saw demand rise by 21 per cent towards the end of September – but Jen said their Christmas figures won't become apparent until the New Year, which she anticipates will also be a busy time.

She added: "I think the effect on society is going to be a much longer game to try and sort out – it's going to take a long time to recover.

"It's shone a light on problems that already existed. For us, it's not a new story, it's just become a bigger story in 2020.

"The vaccine is brilliant but I don't think it will affect us in term of demand. We are concerned about what next year will bring."

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