'The crisis is far from over' - South Shields food bank's desperate appeal for donations to support struggling families
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KEY2Life food bank on Boldon Lane has seen demand for the service soar by more than 300% during the coronavirus pandemic which has hit families hard financially over the last 18 months.
A South Tyneside Churches project, KEY2Life says it is now feeding 16,000 people a year as a ‘direct result of the pandemic’, compared to 4,500 people per year pre-Covid.
But as the economic fall-out of the pandemic continues, the number of donations have also taken a hit and the food bank is now facing a battle to keep up with the rising demand.
Rachel Edwardson, from KEY Project, said: "The crisis is far from over and supplies here are running desperately low.
"There are a lot of people who are still struggling and we regularly feed over 1,000 people a month, which works out at around 250 people per week.
"Over the last year we have seen families who have previously donated now needing the service.
“Donations have fallen as the uncertainty around employment has grown.
"The return to work post-lockdown has also meant less people around during the day to respond quickly to an appeal by dropping off donations.
“General food shortages are also contributing and as some lives have returned to ‘normal’ the perception is that the crisis is over.”
Managed by Jo Benham-Brown and team leader Marie Burnett, the KEY2Life food bank is the longest-running food bank in South Tyneside.
And now it urgently needs donations of food and toiletries to help it continue its vital service.
Essential items needed include tinned meat, fruit and vegetables, as well as dried goods including pasta and cereal.
Each food parcel contains around 30 items, depending on the size of the family, and includes fresh produce from supermarket waste, donated milk and FareShare supplies.
Rachel added: "Anyone who is able to donate items of food or donate financially, please do so. Every little helps."
Donations can be dropped off at the KEY2Life food bank at the Library, Boldon Lane, South Shields which is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
Items can also be dropped off at local supermarket donation points and cash donations can also be made online at www.keyproject.org.uk/donate