More working people than ever before are using foodbanks in South London, according to the overseer of the Greenwich hub.
And he predicts that an explosion of families seeking free meals is only going to grow as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
Never has the need for help been more urgent. It is no longer simply a long-term crisis but a full-on emergency, he says.
There are plenty of excellent charitable causes in the lead-up to Christmas, but we want to inspire our generous readers to recognise the need to keep giving long after the festive season ends.
That is why we are teaming up with foodbanks across South London to promote a Winter Survival Appeal.
We are highlighting the six major foodbanks in the area and asking for those vital contributions to keep coming throughout the challenging months ahead.
Jamie Ginns, chief executive at the Greenwich Foodbank is well placed to spot trends and says that although monetary donations are up, physical donations of food are way down.
He told the South London Press: “This is partly down to a change in approach as we seek to engage the younger generation who are more inclined to send some money than to go to the supermarket.
“We receive 2.5 tons in donations per week and distribute 4.5 tons of food per week. The shortfall is made up in wholesale purchases which we make monthly. By the end of winter we predict we will have spent £50,000 on food on top of what has been physically donated.
“Donations made via more expensive supermarkets such as Waitrose and Sainsbury have remained steady but there has been a noticeable decline in donations made via budget supermarkets such as Lidl, Aldi, Asda and Tesco.
“We see these trends as a clear indicator that people already using budget supermarkets are now pushed to the point where they don’t feel able to donate. ”
A decade ago, when the foodbank opened, some 35,000 meals per year were being supplied. Last year it was 91,000 and by Christmas this year, the figure will have climbed to a new record of around 130,000.
As for the make-up of those in need, there has also been a marked change.
“Working people are coming in far greater numbers now than ever before,” Jamie said. “We see teaching assistants, nurses, delivery drivers and others. It is clear to us that, in more cases than ever before, having a job and working hard no longer guarantees you can put food on the table.
“Another notable shift of this nature is numbers of families and large families (more than 3 children) that are using us. In days gone by it was the single adult that was most precariously placed owing to the limited provision available to them via Universal Credit.
“These days families are simply struggling to make ends meet month on month. It is clear that life has become too expensive for them and so they resort to featuring foodbank use into their financial planning.
“This is without question Greenwich Foodbank’s busiest year in its 10-year history. This is no longer a cost-of-living crisis, it is an emergency.
“The Greenwich Foodbank team are working across Christmas week to ensure that no one is left without food. Looking ahead to 2023 we predict a new surge in foodbank use as the mid-point between government handouts is reached.
“Late January and February are going to prove very difficult for many who are already struggling to put food on the table.”
We would like to join Jamie in urging our readers to get behind this vital cause. You can locate foodbanks near you and donate via the Bank the Food app, or by direct contact with the foodbanks.
They are at:
- Afril, St Peters Church, Eltham Road, Lee, London
- Mottingham Foodbank, St Edwards Church, St Keverne Road
- Lewisham, Hope Centre, Malham Road, Forest Hill
- LRMN Migrant Hub, Woolwich Community Centre, Leslie Smith Square
- Greenwich Foodbank, 180 Shooters Hill
- Central Eltham Youth Palace, Pound Place, Eltham
Pictured top: Jamie Ginns at Greenwich Foodbank (Picture: Jamie Ginns)