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Reserves at Welsh foodbank at crisis point

20 May 2024 5 minute read
Foodbank picture by Andy Buchanan / PA Wire.

It was announced on Friday last week that the UK is no longer in recession.

As much as this is good news for the national economy it does not mean that we are seeing any reductions in food prices in the shops, nor in the cost of rent.

One place where the impact of this is felt more than most is at the Vale Foodbank.

A local charity which is dependent on donations of food and finance to provide people in the Vale of Glamorgan with food and support with financial problems. Volunteers at all eight foodbank centres in the county tell us that much has changed recently.

The soaring cost of fuel, food and rents have led to more working people needing to turn to foodbanks for support. Those reliant on welfare benefits are also finding that their Universal Credit payments are not keeping pace with the rises in the cost of living. The payments they receive are increasingly inadequate even to cover the essentials.

Record high

In the fiscal year 2022-23, the total number of food parcels issued was 6,356. A record high. In the fiscal year 2023-24 that figure rose by over 29% to 8,662. To put that number into context, more than the entire population of Dinas Powys and more than double the population of Cowbridge. So, the Vale food bank has fed the equivalent of an entire town in the last year just here in the Vale of Glamorgan.

As shocking as those numbers might be, the people behind the food bank say there is another issue which is causing real concern.

This surge in demand coincides with a drop-off in donations.

In the 2022-23 fiscal year, 89,338.74 Kgs of food were donated to the foodbank. In the 2023-24 fiscal year that number has fallen to 75,925.12 Kgs. More than a 15% drop.

Stocks of food at a foodbank. Photo Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

This rise in demand and drop in donations has created a perfect storm for the Vale Foodbank.

“Last week, we were down to one tin of meat and one tin of soup” we were told by Graham Atkins who volunteers at the Vale distribution warehouse.

Aaron Goddard who is warehouse manager added “people are struggling and it’s hitting us from all sides. The numbers who need our help is going through the roof, but donations have fallen off a cliff.”

The Vale of Glamorgan County Council have given vital financial support this year. But they, like every local authority in the UK, are having to make hard decisions about future spending. So, no one takes it for granted that this money will always be there.

Increasing local needs

Graham Loveluck-Edwards is the Local Organiser for Vale Foodbank. He told us “In the short term, we would be grateful if people, schools, churches, and businesses who do not already donate would consider donating what they can. That will help us through this difficult period and enable us to respond to increasing local needs. But in the long term we need sustained change.”

Graham is championing a Trussel Trust campaign called ‘Guarantee Our Essentials.”

He told us: “Inadequate social security is the main driver of foodbank use in the Vale and across the UK. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has calculated that the base line figure a single adult needs to afford the essentials in the UK is £120 per week. Basic Universal Credit in the UK is £91 per week. That shortfall is driving more and more people to the foodbanks and that situation is unsustainable. We need the UK government to guarantee that everyone will receive enough to afford the essentials in life.

“Here at the Vale Foodbank, we would love to be out of a job. We do not want the UK to be a place where foodbanks are needed. But we are more desperately needed now than ever.”

If you would like to donate food to the Vale Foodbank, this is the list of the items they are most
desperately in need of:

UHT fruit juice
Tinned ham/ corned beef
Tinned fruit
Rice pudding
Tinned vegetables
Tinned soup
Tinned spaghetti
Jars of pasta sauce
Savoury snacks
Peanut butter
Instant mash
Tinned potatoes

There are drop off points throughout the county where these can be left and collected by

Barry: Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco, One Stop, and Aldi Culverhouse Cross. Also, at Snap Fitness and our Warehouse in Tennyson Road, Barry CF62 9TN

Dinas Powys: The Library and Tesco Express.

Llantwit Major: The Co Op and Bethel Baptist Church

Cowbridge: Waitrose

Rhoose: St Peters Church

Penarth: Tesco

If any societies, institutions, schools, or businesses would like to set up regular financial giving, please email [email protected]

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