MORE than 2,000 children have relied on Flintshire foodbanks to get fed.
Figures released yesterday revealed the shocking levels of poverty-related hunger sweeping the county.
More than 5,000 hungry people have now accessed free food from the county’s seven foodbanks. Charity bosses said 2,100 of them were children.
The numbers point to an alarming rise in uptake in Flintshire, with 3,000 people visting food distribution centres in the last five months alone.
The number of people now struggling to feed their families is ‘phenomenal’, charities warned.
Foodbanks across Chester and Wrexham show similiarly shocking figures, with leaders reporting an almost tenfold increase in the two areas.
Flintshire Foodbank launched its first outlet in Mold in May last year and fed 2,000 people in its first year.
And in the five-and-a-half months since May this year it has already provided food to another 3,000.
Andy Leake, a founding member of the Trussell Trust, the Christian community organisation which kick-started the foodbanks programme, said: “We’re trying to do our best, but there are so many difficulties people are experiencing.
“Everything seems to be going up except wages and people are having to choose between putting food on the table and paying the rent.
“There are people coming out of hospital whose benefits aren’t ready. All these things are devastating and demoralising
“I have never met a person who wants to be poor so why are we keeping so many people poor? It’s scandalous.”
The Trussell Trust, which runs centres across the UK, wrote this week to the Prime Minister about what it called the “scandalous” problem of food poverty. The charty said some recipients are so poor they return to foodbanks with food because they cannot afford to heat it.
In Flintshire the charity has now opened six additional distribution points so those in need can access emergency food parcels five days a week.
Outlets are located at Flint’s River Dee Community Church, the old library in Buckley, St Peter’s Church in Rosehill, Holywell, and the Salvation Army in Connah’s Quay.
There are also outlets at John Summers High School in Queensferry and Saltney Methodist Church, as well as the Mold headquarters on Wrexham Street.
There have been suggestions the spike in foodbank usage is purely been down to more of them opening, but Karen Edwards, the community co-ordinator at the foodbank at Rhossdu, Wrexham, said the idea poverty is not behind the rise is ‘infuriating’.
“We’ve always been here,” she said.
“We haven’t advertised and the agencies we work with haven’t gone out and said ‘Come to us, we’ll give you a food parcel’.
“This is genuine people with genuine need. They don’t use us as an easy option.”
Since they started keeping records in 2009, Mrs Edwards said demand had increased almost tenfold.
Alec Spencer, development officer at the Chester and Ellesmere Port foodbank, said when the bank opened in November 2012, they fed 48 people. By April that number had risen to 308 and since then numbers had “increased steadily”.
Volunteer Terry Green said the reason there were more foodbanks was because there were more people in need of help.
“Foodbanks aren’t driving it,” he said. “They’re meeting a need.”