Midlands food banks pushed to the edge

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Two of Sandwell’s busiest foodbanks – Smethwick Foodbank and Salma Food Bank on Crystal Drive – have reported a desparate shortage of donations as winter approaches.

The rising food and fuel prices have caused supply issues.

Foodbanks have had to ration their products.

Janine Bowers-Wild, manager of the church-based Smethwick FoodBank, said: “It’s a really hard and difficult time.

“We are handing out over 200 packages a day and are running short of supplies.

Volunteers at Smethwick Food Bank

“We are seeing more elderly people and single mums coming through.

“They are all struggling to manage their energy and gas bills and having trouble affording meals.”

Jan also believes recent cuts to Universal Credit and the pandemic has created further food poverty.

“We are seeing a rise in men in their forties and fifties also out of work needing guidance and support to apply for benefits.”

Despite calls for it to be made permanent to help struggling families, the Government recently removed the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift.

The Government has claimed the increase in Universal Credit payments was never meant to be permanent.

Imran Hameed, head of Salma Food Bank Birmingham, said he had come across many families struggling to afford to put food on the table.

He said “We launched the food bank service in 2016 as a direct response to the needs of local families.

” It’s been a lifeline to so many.

“We’ve experienced people crying on our doorstep.

“So many are suffering right now because they simply can’t make ends meet.

“I think it’s disgusting that services like this are even required in the UK but we have to step in and help our community.”

Families in the Black Country are among those worst hit by cuts to benefits and rising costs, with over a quarter of children (28.2 percent) claiming free school meals, according to latest government figures.

Food bank items at Smethwick Food Bank
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