THURROCK foodbank helped almost 3,000 crisis-hit people in just eight months - a rise of more than 200 per cent.
Delays in receiving benefits, changes to benefits and low incomes are highlighted as the three main reasons given for families needing food parcels.
Between July 2012 - when the first Foodbank was set up in Thurrock - and April 2013, the bases served 1,209 people.
But the number of people turning to the Foodbanks - between April and December last year - soared to 2,905.
Angie Gaywood, Labour’s cabinet member for public protection said: “That's a staggering statistic to think that people locally, people we know, friends and neighbours are in desperate need.
“And it doesn't just stop at food, these families are often unable to afford basic items such as nappies, and soap too.”
In the last eight months, the Foodbank provided food for 1,669 adults and 1,236 children.
Families are given vouchers by organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau when they are struggling to make ends meet.
These vouchers can then be transferred at distribution centres for three days worth of tinned and dry food, such as cereals and pasta.
Thurrock Foodbank started with three distribution centres, in Corringham, Purfleet and Tilbury. It now has 11 centres across the borough.
Victoria Windus, the foodbank’s project manager said: “Demand has been high, but then an element of that is that we were still relatively new. More people are now being referred to us.
“All we can do is meet the need.”
Mrs Gaywood publicly thanked the Thurrock Foodbank and called for the government to do more to support foodbanks. She added: “Whilst it is sad to know so many people are desperately in need, it is the kind generosity of spirit in the many volunteers that run the foodbanks and the generosity of donations that are making such a difference.”
SINCE starting in July 2012, the Thurrock Foodbank has grown in size to meet increasing demand.
Overseen by the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity committed to community action against poverty, the Foodbank started as an organisation with three distribution centres and no warehouse to store donated food.
In the last 16 months, it has grown as agencies in Thurrock such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Family Mosaic refer more and more people.
Thurrock Foodbank recently received a total of £9,000 of funding from the Lloyds Community Fund Award, the Grays Rotary Club and an anonymous business, meaning it can purchase a van to take food from its warehouse to the 11 distribution centres it has in towns and villages across Thurrock.
A recent two-day collection outside the Tesco Extra at Lakeside yielded 2.6 tonnes of donated food.
Victoria Windus, the Thurrock Foodbank project manager said: “This is a powerful example of local people getting help from other local people.
“More people are aware of us now and what we do, which is why we’re collecting more now than we were a year ago at supermarkets.”
Victoria Windus, the Thurrock Foodbank project manager
-1,136 vouchers were redeemed by the foodbank, providing emergency food for 2,905 people equivalent to 1,669 adults and 1,236 children.
- Of these, benefit delays accounted for 880 people, low income for 748 people and benefit changes for 392 people -Thurrock Foodbank has served the most people in Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park (657 people), West Thurrock and South Stifford (376 people) and Tilbury St Chads (279 people).
- The breakdown by family type is 439 vouchers for single people, 270 vouchers for single parents, 222 vouchers for families, 118 vouchers for couples and 87 vouchers for 'other'.
-Since opening in July 2012, Thurrock Foodbank has helped 4,114 people - 2,334 adults and 1,780 children.