Kirkcaldy Foodbank volunteers have warned the service is facing a cash crisis after the amount needed to feed those needing support more than doubled in recent months.
The organisation has revealed that the monthly spend on food has spiralled since March, from a previous average of £3000 to a staggering £7709, leading to fears the charity could be left unable to feed everyone should demand continue to rise.
In April, for the first time ever, the foodbank helped over 700 clients, with children accounting for more than a third of those currently in demand.
Now treasurer Joanna Tait is predicting “severe problems by Christmas” unless income increases.
She said: “With the roll-out of Universal Credit and the continuing sanctions by the DWP, more and more people have come to rely on Kirkcaldy Foodbank. Without more income, we will be in financial crisis by the end of the year.”
Although with nearly 60,000 inhabitants in Kirkcaldy, the town’s foodbank has just 64 residents making regular donations by standing order, equating to just 0.1 per cent of the population.
Volunteers say that if this rose to just one per cent, it would mean a regular donation from 600 people, enough to support the foodbank for the foreseeable future.
“There is so much poverty around now that it’s hard to know how best to help,” said board member Marie Penman.
“The sad fact is that the government is not helping – indeed, with the introduction of Universal Credit and benefit sanctions, it’s exacerbating the problem – so it’s up to us to do something.
“We simply can’t let people go hungry – it’s inhuman.”
Kirkcaldy Foodbank is now urging more townsfolk to commit to making monthly donations by standing order to stop the situation from worsening.
A regular donation of £10 a month, or even £5 or £2, would go a long way to supporting the foodbank. All that is required is a standing order set up with your bank.”
A sense of despair across the council chamber
Kirkcaldy councillors have spoken of their despair at the levels of food insecurity across Fife five years after Fife Council first committed to a specific strategy to help alleviate the growing issue of people being unable to provide themselves or their families with enough food.
In a report outlining the efforts of the local authority since 2013 to tackle food poverty, the region has witnessed a large increase in those requiring support.
Latest estimates indicate more than 24,000 adults in Fife are now experiencing food insecurity.
Latest Kirkcaldy Foodbank statistics reveal that in April, the group provided 786 food parcels for a total of 13815 meals to 1535 people. Since the beginning of 2018, 6417 people, including 2217 children have received help.
So far this year, the majority of those in need cite benefit sanctions, delays or changes for coming to the foodbank.
“How disappointed we should be to have to discuss the issue of food insecurity in Fife in the 21st century,” said Kirkcaldy councillor Neil Crooks. “A doubling of families and children having to look for help because they can not provide enough food is a really severe indictment on the state of play in the UK right now on how unsocial we are to people in need.”
Cllr Crooks’ amendment for the Fife authority to seek more ways to become flexible in its support of foodbanks and similar organisations meeting the demand head on, gained cross party support.
“Once again local government is having to stand along side volunteer organisations as a buffer to support people in difficulty,” said fellow Kirkcaldy councillor Judy Hamilton.
“In the last five years we’ve seen the rise of Universal Credit, zero hours contracts and now holiday hunger where children are struggling to be fed during school holiday time. It’s an absolute disgrace in 2018.
“Once again our communities contribution has been and will continue to be brilliant in meeting the call for help.”
Support from Soroptimists
Kirkcaldy Foodbank’s recent ‘period poverty’ appeal has been given a boost thanks to a generous donation from the local branch of the Soroptimists.
After hearing of the need for sanitary products for women struggling to cope each month on low incomes, members of the Kirkcaldy Soroptimists fundraising charity, encouraged its members to contribute to a collection which they presented to Maureen Closs, volunteer, recently.
The foodbank volunteers have written to local businesses and organisations asking people to contribute.
If you would like to do so there are collection points at:
• KIRKCALDY Fife Free Press, Carlyle House; Arnold Clark, Carberry Road; Asda; Bank of Scotland – High St and Rosslyn St; Co-operative, Ralston Drive; East Vows Complementary Health, 182 Esplanade; Holistic Centre, 142 St. Clair St; St Bryce Kirk; Morrisons; Sainsbury’s;
• TSB Bank, High St; Spaghetti Tattoos, 409 High St.
• KINGHORN Glory Hole Church Centre, Main Street; Kinghorn Community Centre.
• BURNTISLAND Potter About, 253a High St.
• CARDENDEN Tesco.
Can you afford to help? Kirkcaldy Foodbank is a community charity run entirely by volunteers. Now, more than ever, it needs the support of the community ‑ so please donate today.
Name of account: Kirkcaldy Foodbank
Sort Code: 20-00-77
Account number: 03735796