Demand for a Hartlepool holiday anti-hunger pilot scheme has proved so high it has exceeded supplies two weeks early.
The £13,000 Holiday Hunger initiative launched by Hartlepool Borough Council had been due to run for the full length of the school holidays until Friday, September 2.
It shows some families in Hartlepool are struggling during the school holiday periodSteven Carter, Hartlepool Borough Council
But demand has proved so strong that all 480 food parcels made up by Hartlepool Foodbank, were expected to have been given out by the close of play yesterday.
Project leaders within the council say they hope to extend the scheme which has seen families receive food parcels from one of three distribution centres across Hartlepool.
Steven Carter, health improvement practitioner at Hartlepool council, said: “It looks as if we probably underestimated demand slightly.
“It has been a popular scheme and shows some families in Hartlepool are struggling during the school holiday period.”
The scheme launched on Monday, July 25, and has been aimed at families with children who would otherwise have received free school meals.
It has been running throughout the week from West View Advice and Resource Centre, Chatham Children’s Centre and Owton Manor Community Centre.
The parcels included staple foods such as rice, pasta, tinned vegetables and tinned meat and fish plus recipe ideas and information on support services available.
Mr Carter said Hartlepool is not alone with the issue of food poverty but added the pilot scheme has highlighted the level of need.
He said: “It is something we are concerned about and probably isn’t going to go away.”
Support to families has also been boosted by 18 schemes being run by various community groups across town which provide a healthy meal or snack to youngsters as part of their summer holiday activities.
It is after they were awarded grants of up to £3,000 from a £25,000 council fund.
Abi Knowles, Hartlepool foodbank coordinator, added: “We at Hartlepool Foodbank have been really happy to be involved with the Holiday Hunger scheme and the phenomenal take up means that we’ve been able to provide support for some of our most vulnerable families during what can be a particularly difficult time.
“I hope that access to the scheme has made the school holidays more manageable for families and has taken away some of the worry around increased food bills during the holidays.”
Steven advised parents to keep an eye on the council’s website and social media accounts for updates regarding the food parcel scheme.