New 'community fridge' food bank launches in South Tyneside to help keep people fed through cost of living crisis

A community fridge will be unveiled in South Tyneside to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Bede’s Helping Hands food bank is increasing its support to the public so that people can get a balanced meal with fresh food, vegetables and fruit as well as tinned produce.

The Helping Hands team will reveal their newest facility at a launch on Tuesday, October 4.

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But Tracy Beaton, who runs the food bank, said it comes at a time when the numbers of people wanting help is rising significantly.

The Bede’s Helping Hands Food Bank community fridge scheme will start next week.

"We are seeing 100 to 120 people a week and we are expecting that to grow. Since April, we have had a 50 per cent rise in numbers.

"And our spending on food from April to the beginning of September was £8,500. That’s a lot of money but we are getting a lot of people through our doors.”

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The community fridge, which has been set up with funding support from the Co-op, will ‘provide fresh food and also cooked meals which will be provided by our working partnership with Food for Thought Pantry. We are also going to provide fresh vegetables and fruit,” said Tracy.

"Now that the dark nights are coming people are putting the lights and the heating on earlier. But they are thinking that the cost of gas and electric is going up. People are struggling with mental health. It is a never ending struggle.”

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Tracy Beaton from the Bede's Helping Hands food bank.

People who turn up to the food bank for the first time always have the same reaction.

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"The first thing they say is they are so embarrassed to be coming here. They are struggling with bills and the cost of living, and food prices are rolling up.”

The Community Fridge will be open between 10am and 2pm from Monday to Friday at Bede’s Helping Hands in Jarrow, which is in the Old Library on the Scotch Estate.

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A volunteer helps to fill up the fridge.
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As the cost of running the food bank rises, Tracy urged businesses to support the initiative.

She said: “We need all the help we can get.”

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Any companies which can offer support should email [email protected] or calling 0191 8163021.

Volunteers at the Bede's Helping Hands food bank.
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The food bank which does such vital work.
The new community fridge scheme is on the way next week.