FOODBANK bosses say hard-up people will be forced to chose between heating their homes or putting food on the table this winter.
Hartlepool Foodbank, which has collected a staggering 22 tonnes of food from supporters since it launched almost a year ago, says demand has continued throughout the sumnmer as people feel the economic squeeze.
And they are expecting another surge as the autumn and winter sets in putting more pressure on family finances.
The Foodbank, based in Church Street, revealed that it has provided emergency food parcels to all areas of Hartlepool, except West Park.
Project chairman, Clive Hall, said: “We are getting busier. The need for foodbanks has stepped up and we are definitely seeing an increase in the number of people coming down.
“In some places people will have to choose between putting the heating on or eating.”
“We thought we might have seen a drop off during the summer. We have not seen that and demand may go up again this winter when people again have to make that choice.”
Al Wales, Hartlepool Foodbank co-ordinator, said people’s finances are being squeezed in all directions following the introduction things like the Bedroom Tax and as part of a shake-up of the welfare system.
She said: “Wages in this country are 5.5 per cent lower compared to the rest of Europe.
“We are talking about people being squeezed in every way. There is no buffer them.
“It doesn’t take much to tip people over the edge.”
Foodbank managers have written to every school in Hartlepool asking them to consider donating food from their harvest festivals and is appealing to the public to continue to give generously.
It is particularly short of tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, juice, sugar, lifelong milk, rice pudding, custard, tinned meat, tinned fish and biscuits.
Meanwhile, the foodbank has been given £4,000 courtesy of Hartlepool Borough Council.
It is possible because of an underspend from the Local Welfare Support (LWS) scheme budget after the first three months of the financial year.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “From speaking to people it is really surprising just how many people are becoming reliant on the foodbank.”
In October last year, the local authority donated £10,000 to Hartlepool Foodbank after councillors unanimously backed a motion to help towards the start-up and running costs of the project.
Food donations can be made at 28 Church Street, Tuesdays and Fridays, between 11am and 1.30pm.