NEARLY 800 people – 235 of them children – have turned for support from Ryedale Food Bank since its launch 12 months ago.
The food bank, which marks its first anniversary on Saturday, has collected 10,104kg of donated food and fed 534 adults and 235 children.
The service’s coordinators, who work under the motto “Reviving Hope, Restoring Dignity”, said the need for the food bank is increasing as more and more families struggle on the breadline.
Food Bank manager John Mackenzie said that in the current economic climate it only took one thing to throw people into crisis. “We have people coming to us from all walks of life,” he said. “It may be that they have been running their own business, which has gone bust, through to people on the minimum wage where a single extra bill throws them over the edge.
“A lot of people are only one step away from disaster and we are here to catch them as they fall - we don’t judge as you never know what is going on in someone’s life.”
Foodbank vouchers are given by one of 25 front line agents which include Citizens Advice Bureau, Yorkshire Housing, Homestart and Hope Debt Advice.
A typical food parcel includes cereals, sugar, tea or coffee, pasta or rice, milk and cans of soup, vegetables, meat, fish and fruit.
John said the food supplied was designed to last for three days but people could often make it last for longer.
“Most of the people find it incredibly difficult to walk through the door for the first time, so we try to put them at their ease and to chat through any problems they may have so we can point them in the right direction,” he added.
“It can be incredibly difficult at times particularly when you see children come in and demolish a plate of biscuits because they are so hungry. Of course some people try to play the system but I can say that 99.9 per cent of those who come to us are people in real need.”
Initially opened in Malton, the foodbank opened a second distribution centre in Pickering last November.
Father of three ‘Michael’, has visited the foodbank a couple of times after being referred by the CAB.
“I have just started my own business but before that I was on benefits which is really hard when you have children to feed,” he said.
“The first time I came here I stood on the door and was embarrassed to go in but everyone made me feel at ease and gave me someone to talk to. I just can’t give the people here enough praise and it has made me think about volunteering myself so I can give something back and help others.”
Lesley Hurley, a member of the committee, said she had been amazed by the generosity and help people had provided.
“There is a local need for compassion and by providing this one small thing during a time of need it will enable vulnerable people to get back on solid ground and show them that someone cares,” she added.
To mark the first anniversary an open day is being held at Hope Centre in Castlegate, Malton, from 10 am to 2 pm.
There will be games, information, and a chance to ask questions and see what the Ryedale Food Bank does and why.
Lesley has also taken up the challenge of ‘To Be Bald Or Not To Be Bald’ depending on how much sponsorship is raised.
“We are run on a shoestring and noone gets paid which is why we need to raise funds and secure donations,” she added.
“I’ve volunteered to do this and depending and on how much is pledged will have my head shaved on the night.”
Lesley added: “People think that in area such as Ryedale there is no need for a foodbank but our figures show that the belief is wrong and we will continue to do all we can to support those families in need to revive their hope and restore their dignity.”
Distribution centres are open at Hope Central, Castlegate, Malton, Wednesday, 10am - 12noon & Friday, 1.30 -3.30pm and Potter Hill Methodist church, Pickering, Tuesday, 1.30 - 3pm & Thursday, 4 - 6pm.
Food donations can be left at various locations including the Gazette & Herald office, 22 Yorkersgate, Malton, and Hope Central, Castlegate, Malton.
For more information phone 01653 697796 or email firstname.lastname@example.org