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Gravesham food bank calls for much-needed support

PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 December 2013 | UPDATED: 12:14 13 December 2013

St Pauls Church Foodbank l to r Volunteers Margot Edwards, Ann Preston, Andy Amos, Glynis Johnson, Marion Pipcin and Simon Berry

St Pauls Church Foodbank l to r Volunteers Margot Edwards, Ann Preston, Andy Amos, Glynis Johnson, Marion Pipcin and Simon Berry

Archant

The number of people relying on food banks to survive is soaring.

More and more cash-strapped families and the elderly in the borough of Gravesham are being forced to ask for emergency food.

The local food bank has “catered for 2,200 people in the last 13 months” and with Christmas around the corner the project manager David Idowu has made an impassioned appeal for more support.

“We have seen an upward trend in the community which is both heartbreaking and challenging,” said Mr Idowu, who is also a church minister.

“It is heartbreaking for me to see people in dire need of food in a first world, developed country.”

In October the Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, including Gravesham Food Bank, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.

Mr Idowu, 44, runs Gravesham Food Bank from three sites during the week: St Paul’s United Reformed Church in Singlewell Road, Gravesend Methodist Church in Milton Road, and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Life Start Connections in St Clement’s Close.

According to the minister, each week the food bank, run by 45 volunteers, caters for between 60 to 70 people.

But with the festive period under two weeks away the centre is reaching crisis point.

Mr Idowu said he is desperate for not only more space to store food but also more volunteers, because after all “there is a limit” to what you can ask people to do.

“It is challenging because we are 100 per cent reliant on the public,” he added. “We do not get any support at all and all our staff are volunteers - not a single one of us workers is being paid.”

“The benefits of this are people are doing this from their hearts but, of course the disadvantage is that there is a limit to what you can ask them to do.”

Mr Idowu said he needs commercial support from businesses to fund two full-time administrative positions to oversee operations.

And with supermarkets and churches providing his food bank with special festive treats, such as Christmas puddings, the need for extra storage space is greater than ever.

“We are simply working beyond capacity,” he said.

To volunteer or offer support to Gravesham Food Bank, call Mr Idowu on 07940089643.

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