PRIME Minister David Cameron is facing calls to do something about food poverty as increasing numbers of people are relying on foodbanks like the one in Hartlepool.
The national Trussell Trust charity, which runs Hartlepool Foodbank, in Church Street, has written to him urging him to look into the “scandalous” problem of food poverty.
Chief executive Chris Mould said three times as many people are using foodbanks compared to the same period last year.
And the charity is warning some that foodbank users are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up.
Meanwhile Hartlepool foodbank project leaders say they are expecting demand for help to increase this winter.
Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator Al Wales said the charity has seen an increase in people going to them for food handouts since the Government’s welfare reform came into force in April, affecting many people’s benefits.
Last month alone, the foodbank gave out more than two and a half tonnes of food to those in need.
Mrs Wales said: “The rising cost of living, the cost of food is 12.6 per cent above inflation, a recent hike in energy prices, static wages, the implementation of the bedroom tax and increasingly harsh benefit sanctions have left many, financially unable to cope.
“With winter fast approaching the horrible choice of going hungry or getting cold is a reality for those who can no longer afford to both eat and heat their home.”
Three weeks ago Hartlepool Foodbank revealed 11 people a day were receiving food parcels.
During its first 10 months in extestence, the charity has helped 3,407 people including more than 1,100 children.
Al added: “We are so grateful for the overwhelming support the foodbank received from across the town with churches of all denominations, many schools and members of the public donating through harvest festival and other appeals.
“Please keep giving as we anticipate this winter being one of the most difficult for many families in Hartlepool.”
Hartlepool Foodbank, at 28 Church Street, is opens on a Tuesday and Friday, from 11.30am-1.30pm, where people can donate non-perishable food.
The town’s Tesco Extra, in Burn Road, and Asda, in Marina Way, will also take donations.