Demand at Glenrothes foodbank soars

Demand has soared at the Glenrothes foodbank
Demand has soared at the Glenrothes foodbank

Glenrothes Foodbank bosses say they have “vastly underestimated” the need for the service as the number of referrals continues to grow.

Project co-ordinators planned to help 800 individuals in the first year but have already distributed food to 632 people in the first three months since the operation opened its doors in December.

The stark reality of a continuing need for a foodbank in the town was demonstrated when Mary Hill, a member of the project’s steering committee delivered its first quarterly report to councillors this week.

Volunteers have already handed out eight tonnes of food to individuals and families finding themselves in a position of not being able to afford enough food to survive.

The main cause for the rise in demand is being attributed to the increasing number of people having their benefits delayed or frozen following the introduction of the UK Government’s welfare reform legislation.

Mr Hill said: “The issue of people finding that their benefit payments have been sanctioned or delayed is putting the most pressure on Glenrothes Foodbank since we opened.

“Over half of the food parcel vouchers that our customers have been issued are because of benefit delays or changes.”

As well as relying on food donations and the goodwill of around 70 volunteers, the Glenrothes Foodbank project receives £20,000 from Fife Council and £50,000 Big Lottery funding.

The vast majority of the food is being donated by individuals across the region feeling compelled to help.

“People want to help and we are looking at ways to make donations simpler as demand continues to grow,” said Mary.

Initially set up as a two-year initiative, the aim of the steering group is to hand over the running to a specially designated management committee. The uncertainty at the moment is just how long the foodbank will be required.

“It’s unclear just how long we’ll need such a requirement but people can rest assured that we will continue to provide for as long as there is a need, “Maureen Power, co-ordinator of the Glenrothes Foodbank.

Can your business help foodbank?

Foodbank co-odinators are calling on local companies big and small to help with introducing communal collection points with the workplace.

Specially prepared collection boxes have been appearing in increasing numbers in schools, council offices and banks across the Glenrothes area enabling people to conveniently donate food without having to take direct to the Foodbank’s premises in the Saltire Centre’s Pentland Court.

Once full volunteers from the project will come and uplift the donations before processing it and getting it to those in need.

Councillor John Beare said: “It’s a simple and effective way of allowing people in whatever way they can.

“I’d urge as many companies as possible to set up a collection point for employees, we have one in the foyer of Fife House which has been greatly received.”