THE demand for emergency food handouts for starving families in dire straits has trebled in recent weeks amid crippling budget cuts.
Bosses at the East Durham Trust, based in Peterlee, have seen the need for their food parcels in the Food Emergency East Durham (FEED) project increase three-fold to 30 per week.
Easington MP Grahame Morris has described the situation as a “tragic” one that harks back to the times of soup kitchens during the miners’ strike in the 1980s.
Trust bosses fear the situation is only going to get worse as scathing Government cuts, job losses and welfare reforms, coupled with the rising cost of living, take hold.
They say the need for donations of food is more important than ever and appeal for people to help.
Trust chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “It’s surprising the kinds of people who are finding themselves in crisis.
“It’s not just people who have been on benefits for years and years, it’s people who have worked all their lives and find themselves in crisis overnight.
“We anticipate that when the welfare reforms come in, in the autumn, there will be an even greater demand.”
Labour MP Mr Morris said: “When people are forced into dire straits and have to rely on food aid to feed their families, it’s a sad indictment of society and the policies this Government are pursuing.”
Hartlepool hosted a similar scheme for 10 weeks earlier this year when the People’s Relief of Pressure (PROP) winter comfort soup kitchen opened in the town’s South Road.
The NHS-funded programme provided free hot meals to people and gave advice on how to keep warm and access benefits to the vulnerable and elderly.