Those responsible for running the town’s foodbank initiative say they have been left shocked and saddened by the visit of a young mother seeking help to feed her three-day-old baby.
The mother, whose identity has been protected, visited the foodbank offices last month unable to afford to buy milk formula for her new-born baby.
She had been told told there would be up to a two-week processing time for her application before she would receive the necessary milk vouchers.
The department of Work and Pensions (DWP) stipulates that it is the responsibility of the mother to apply for tokens for babies under the age of one.
The amount the tokens are worth is £6.20 per child under the age of one per week and £3.10 for babies over the age of one year - still substantially less that the price of milk formula in the supermarkets.
Volunteers from the centre managed to obtain enough of the required milk but are now appealing to the public to come forward with baby formula donations along with other urgently required supplies such as nappies, baby wipes and baby food.
Maureen Power, lead co-ordinator at the Pentland Court premises in the town’s Saltire Centre, told the Gazette a small number of mothers had visited the Foodbank for help with their babies, but that this was by far the youngest she had experienced.
“It just can not be right that this is allowed to happen but it has and it does and thankfully we were and are here to help,” said Maureen.
She added: “That people can apparently fall through the gaps and that situations can seemingly simply arise that put people in danger of not being able to feed their baby is a major worry for us, we can not allow that to continue.”
Mothers are required to fill in a form requesting the need for milk vouchers and it’s the apparent administrative delays of up to two weeks in processing these requests that Foodbank organisers say is putting babies at risk.
Glenrothes Foodbank is now in negotiation with NHS Fife to see if they can secure an emergency supply of baby milk products so they can act without delay if other mothers find themselves in a similar position.
With an expanding network of collection points , including supermarkets, local convenience stores, banks and churches, it’s never been easier for you to donate and to help others from going hungry.
Alternatively, you can make a donation directly to Glenrothes Foodbank, Pentland Court, Saltire Centre, Glenrothes. 01592-612674.
Support from area committee
As the demands on the town’s Foodbank shows no sign of receding any time soon, councillors at this month’s Glenrothes Area Committee have confirmed they will continue to support the efforts of a network of the 26 full time volunteer staff, and numerous other part time helpers that keep people from going hungry in the town.
The unanimous backing was given as members received a first year update report detailing the demand now experienced on a weekly basis.
With Glenrothes containing a number of communities within the highest echelons in relation to the region’s social deprivation index, the foodbank has experienced a steady increase in demand since it opened in November 2013.
In the period December 1, 2013 to September 29, 2014 Glenrothes Foodbank has helped 1283 adults and 477 children - nearly half of those totals (601 adult, 165 children) required foobank assistance in the three-month period from April to June.
The biggest growth statistic is the increase in single males between the ages of 25 and 65 now requiring support from the organisation.
Councillors were told that Glenrothes Foodbank provision is an essential part of meeting the needs of local people in crisis and that there is a quantifiable, ongoing need for its service to continue.
Cllr Altany Craik, Glenrothes Area Committee chairman said: “I’ve heard many people express their dismay that we need foodbanks in the 21st Century.
“The evidence speaks for itself though, in less than a year Glenrothes Foodbank has helped just under 2000 people in our local area.
“Clearly it’s an essential part of meeting the needs of people in crisis due to benefit changes and sanctions.”
He continued: “As I‘ve said before, there’s no quick fix for some of the big challenges we face.
“It’s only by continuing to work together, we’ll make a positive difference to the lives of people in the Glenrothes area.”
SNP opposition leader Peter Grant added: “The fact that nearly 500 children are going hungry is tantamount to being a crime against humanity, what a sad indictment of our society.
“We have no choice other than to support this and will continue to do so.”
Kay Morrison said: “An already bad situation is getting worse. It is obscene that we need this type of service in the 21st century.” She called for more dialogue to be conducted with Department of Work and Pensions staff to try and ease the situation of people being unnecessarily having their benefits sanctions or suspended.
Glenrothes Foodbank is open from noon to 6.30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.