Lunch club as food poverty is up in Stowmarket

Stowmarket Food Bank
Stowmarket Food Bank
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Stowmarket and Area Food Bank has been running childen’s lunch clubs this summer to help people overcome the impact of food poverty.

As demand for food parcels has increased by 31 per cent over last year the food bank run by the New Life Family Church and Stowmarket Churches Together recognised a growing need among families whose children normally benefit from a free school meal during term time.

It has also been signposting more and more people to debt counselling and credit union financial help at a time when more and more people nationally are falling foul of pay day loans.

Pastor Mike Smith said they had been working with the local childrens’ centres and running lunch clubs at the Sunshine Centre at Hillside Community Centre where the Food Bank operates.

On Wednesday this week 30 children and carers sat down to a hot dinner.

Mr Smith said: “We have been working in Africa, Uganda and Rwanda feeding children there and I never thought we would be doing this in Suffolk. I never thought there would be a need.”

This week the Trussell Trust which runs several Food banks in Britain including one in Lakenheath announced it was providing financial help to prevent people resorting to Pay Day loans. This was thanks to £100,000 donation from money saving expert Martin Lewis,

“We know that food poverty is just one level of poverty and here we signpost people to Children’s Centres, the CAB and Credit Union. At the moment this partnership works well. They refer people to the food bank and we refer people to them. We’re all doing what we’re doing well,” said Mr Smith.

The Food bank is expanding its operation into Hadleigh in co-operation with Babergh District Council so that people can collect from its offices.

In its first year 398 families have been helped through the Food Bank with 55 more receiving Christmas Hampers. In the first six months of this year the numbers helped had gone up 31 per cent.