NEARLY 300 people across the area have now benefited from the Ryedale Foodbank in the six months since it was set up.

The figures include 63 children, who might otherwise have gone hungry, as the need for the service continues to grow.

Initially set up at Hope Central, in Malton, the Ryedale Foodbank is now open twice a week in Pickering, with collection boxes in the town and at various locations in Kirkbymoorside.

Co-ordinator Lesley Hurley said they had been open throughout the Christmas and New Year period helping 13 people at just one session.

“There are now more than 20 organisations who can give vouchers to people in need of help, which range from the Citizens Advice Bureau and Yorkshire Housing to Homestart and York College to assist young adults,”she said.

“The issues that can leave you without money for food are varied so we have tried to cover as many agencies as we can to give as much support as possible. The number one reason people give for needing our help is low income, people in work who can’t earn enough to cover the basics and the age group most affected is 25 to 64 year olds.”

Lesley said people had been very supportive with regular donations made at collection points across Ryedale.

“We want to continue to get the message across and dispel the myth there are ‘no poor in Ryedale’ or we are only encouraging the feckless,” she said.

“There were also 63 children who were fed in the last six months who might otherwise have gone hungry.”

The Ryedale Foodbank is open at the Methodist Church Hall, Potter Hill, Pickering, on Mondays, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, and on Thursdays, from 4pm to 6pm.

It is open at Hope Central, in Malton, on Wednesday, from 10am to noon, and Friday, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Food donations can also be left at the Gazette & Herald office, 22 Yorkersgate, Malton.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a foodbank volunteer can find out more at Hope Central or phone 01653 697796.