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Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Bracknell Foodbank is lifeline for hard up in Berkshire
Ascot Heath Primary school children
Children from Ascot Heath Primary School have been donating food

People in Bracknell are going hungry because their incomes do not stretch to buying food, according to a charity which runs a local food bank.

Bracknell Foodbank said they have had a record year for donations in 2010.

In 2010 they have already received six tonnes of food compared to 2.5 tonnes donated last year.

But the charity says the rise in donations has kept pace with a "growing demand" for food parcels which can feed a family for three days.

In crisis

Logistics manager at Bracknell Foodbank Geoff Hallett said: "We have a number of single people coming in because their allowances aren't coming in, there are delays of up to 19 weeks on benefits, so they're struggling."

 Keith White, a volunteer with Foodbank for Kerith Community Church
The Foodbank is run by dedicated volunteers

Food for the Foodbank is donated by the people of Bracknell.

Volunteers sort and pack the food into food packs. Each food pack contains enough food for three days.

Bad times

The charity partner with front-line care professionals, who identify people in crisis and give them a voucher.

On taking their voucher to the Foodbank centre, people receive a warm welcome, a hot drink and a food pack.

Mr Hallett said that the parcels were used by family services as well as voluntary organisations like Be Heard and Mencap.

"Primarily it's mums looking after their kids who've fallen on bad times," he said. "It's very difficult for them to make ends meet, there's been cut backs in allowances for them and they've got to look after their families."

Volunteer Gareth said some unusual items had been donated.

Foodbank provides
Milk (UHT or powdered)
Tinned Soup
Fruit Juice (carton)
Pasta Sauces
Baked Beans
Rice/Sponge Pudding (Tinned)
Tomatoes (Tinned)
Pasta/Rice (1kg)
Tinned Vegetables
Tea Bags
Instant Mash Potato
Tinned Meat/Fish
Tinned Fruit
Sugar (500g)
Biscuits or snack bars

"Once we had a tin of octopus come in, and we said who will eat octopus?" he said.

"Just at that moment a lady from Finland came in and said I do, I love octopus!"

Desperate people

Lorraine, who uses the service which is run in connection with Kerith Church, said her partner had passed away.

"I've got five children under my roof aged from nine to 17, and we wouldn't have survived were it not for the kind people at the Kerith," she said.

Gary, a local unemployed man, said that he was forced to live without food when his job seekers allowance was suspended.

"We went to the Kerith and they said, why don't you talk to the food bank. They gave us a couple of food parcels until our JSA payments came through.

"We've started getting our lives back together, but the food parcels really help."

Pat Hallet, Foodbank manager, said: "Every day there are more and more stories, more and more cases of hardship, people desperate for help and it's a privilege to be able to help them."

Andy Jackson from Christians against Poverty, which supports the Bracknell Foodbank, said "We're helping people who are in debt, we're seeing people go without food to meet debt repayments.

"We're seeing people lose their jobs and that can make debt more and more unmanageable.

"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better."

Without food

Volunteer Helen said: "Friends say in the south there are rich areas, they don't need food banks. But in this area there are people going without food.

"We have mothers coming in who say they haven't eaten because they are so keen on providing for their children.

"It affects the whole family and their morale.

"At this time of year their benefits are going on heating."

Alisha, Molly and Hannah from Ascot Heath Primary School said that they were hoping to give donations of chocolate as well as staples of pasta and beans.

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