FOODBANK bosses fear there will be a huge rise in hand-outs during the school holidays as desperate families struggle to feed their children who would have received free school meals.
Families picked up almost a TONNE of goods from Hartlepool Foodbank in the first week of the school holidays.
The foodbank, in Church Street, usually hands out around half that amount each week to families on the breadline struggling to make ends meet.
But on the day many town schools broke up for their six-week break, volunteers at the Foodbank dished out more than 30 parcels to feed families.
Hartlepool Foodbank manager Al Wales said: “We were very busy this time last year, but as it was our first summer in operation it is difficult to say that is purely down to the school holidays as there are no previous figures to compare it to.
“But there is no doubt that the school holidays are a key factor in the increase in parcels we give out.
“Children who normally have their lunch at school are now at home, and they need to be fed.
“So the families are having to get more food than they normally would.
“We were extremely busy last Friday, and the collection on the Tuesday was also quite large.
“On a busy week, we can hand out about half a tonne of food across the week. “Last Friday, we did that in one day.”
The Foodbank opens twice a week, for two hour periods on Tuesdays and Fridays.
People deemed to be in need of handouts are referred to the Foodbank by health professionals, social workers or other agency staff.
Al added: “We carried out a collection in Morrisons recently because we knew we would be busy during the summer.
“The schools help us with regular donations, but when they are on holiday they obviously drop off.
“We’re well stocked, and we’re coping, but obviously more donations are always welcomed.”
The Mail backed the Foodbank scheme by launching our We Can Do It appeal to encourage readers to make donations.
There has been overwhelming support from all corners of the community, including supermarkets, schools, churches and businesses, and regular collections take place as well as donations being handed in.