AROUND 50 food parcels a week are being handed out to desperate families – a five-fold increase since a scheme began 18 months ago.
The Food Emergency East Durham (FEED) project, ran by East Durham Trust, was set up to help feed those facing crisis.
Around 30 community outlets have set up collection points to help with demand.
Two months ago, Asda Peterlee joined in the initiative – and trust bosses have been overwhelmed by the response from generous shoppers.
Trust chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “We anticipated maybe collecting a trolleyful once a month, but our volunteers have been emptying the trolley every seven to 10 days.
“We were delighted when Asda agreed to get on board.
“We have been even more delighted with the response of local shoppers who have proven once again that community spirit is alive and well.
“We have been overwhelmed and delighted by the amount of times Asda has asked us to come and empty the trolley.”
Mr Fallow said 18 months ago, food handouts were being given to a maximum of 10 recipients each week, but with the recession, Government spending cuts and welfare reforms, the trust is now putting out between 40 and 50 parcels a week, with 52 given out last week.
He said people who have benefited from the food parcels have included an ex-serviceman who was living rough and a single mother facing the weekend with £2.50.
Asda’s Community Life Champion Karen Bell said: “Asda are delighted to be able to help the most in need in our community and would like to thank our shoppers for thinking of others.”