Demand for help from Kirkcaldy Foodbank has reached unprecedented levels.
Last month, the frontline community group gave out a record 742 food parcels to 1491 people – the highest number it has had to help yet.
That amounted to to 13,419 meals – a three-fold increase on the number issued in March 2015
The figures were revealed at the Foodbank’s board meetong on Tuesday.
Joyce Leggate, chairman, said a key factor behind the rising demand was the roll-out of Universal Credit in Fife just before Christmas.
She said: “Since November, with the exception of February, we have at least 100 new clients coming forward each month for support and family numbers are rising.
“During 2018, benefit issues – delay, sanction and change – were the reason given by 55 per cent of clients for the nature of the crisis which led to them contacting us.
“Our data shows 28 per cent of all clients are experiencing problems with benefit delays and Universal Credit but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests the true figure is much higher.”
The foodbank relies 100 per cent on public donations, and spends £4000 every month to help people in crisis.
That figure rose to £6000 last month and is expected to be the same again in April.
“We reached a point last year where we were only six weeks away from closing because of a discrepancy between supply and demand, but our call-out for help brought a considerable swell of support from the public,” said Joyce. “The Kirkcaldy community is so generous, it’s humbling.”
She added: “The reality is that as quick as we can catch-up, we find ourselves catching up again and we can never take our eye off the ball.
“There’s nothing worse than having to turn away a family, saying we have nothing left to hand out.”
Worryingly, the foodbank has, for the first time, had pensioners come forward for help.
“We’re not sure whether it’s the effect of fuel bills, but we had two pensioners come in one morning recently saying they couldn’t survive on their state pension. It was quite startling,” said Joyce.
Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy, said it was evident the government was increasingly reliant on using third sector groups to prop up the welfare state – and that was unacceptable.
She said: “What we have is a deliberate unpicking by this government of all the progress fought for over decades by our parents and our grandparents.
“When they survived the Great Depression their enduring mission was to ensure that future generations would never have to go hungry or worry about heating their homes.
“The increasing reality for too many people in our community that is exactly what is happening.”
>> To find out more, or make a donation, please go here Foodbank