- 4335 three day emergency food supplies given to local people in crisis by Taunton Foodbank in 2016-17 – over 1808 went to children. This is a 31% increase on 2015/16
- Latest statistics published by The Trussell Trust foodbank network show UK-wide foodbank figures are still not decreasing
- Local increase due to people struggling with issues related to benefit payments including the implementation of the full service of Universal Credit in Taunton Deane.
Over 4335 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Taunton foodbank during 2016-17, compared to 3318 in 2015-16. Up by 31%. Of this number, 1808 went to children. The top three reasons for foodbank referral were benefit delay 22%, benefit change 21% and help for low income families in the school holidays 20%.
Over the last year, over 60 people volunteered, to help in Taunton Foodbank and local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food to people in crisis. Local people have donated 38½ tonnes of food which is up by 21% on the previous year. During the same period the amount of food distributed went up by 50% and our stocks are depleting rapidly. We urgently need soup, coffee, long life fruit juice and milk, tinned fruit, tinned custard, tinned vegetables and tinned cold meat.
Taunton Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in Universal Credit rollout areas about the adverse side effects the new system can have on people. The 6+ week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. The effects of these can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up. Taunton Foodbank is working hard to stop local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this has put on food donation stocks and volunteers’ time and emotional welfare. If the same level of need continues in the coming year we will need an increase in food donations to keep pace with the amount of food going out to stop local people going hungry.
As well as providing emergency food, Taunton Foodbank provides essentials like washing powder, nappies and sanitary products to families who are struggling, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area. Many Trussell Trust foodbanks,are partnering with other agencies to provide additional services such as welfare advice, budgeting help and debt support at the foodbank itself, helping people to break out of crisis and Taunton Foodbank is considering the feasibility of a similar partnership here.
Sue Weightman, Foodbank Manager of Taunton Foodbank said:
“It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in Taunton over the last year. Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill – which means food is simply unaffordable. It really is only with the community’s support that we’re able to provide vital emergency help when it matters most, and we hope that one day there will be no need for us in Taunton Deane. But until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis. Thank you so much to everyone in Taunton Deane who already donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!”
Despite generous donations of food, there are many hidden costs to run the foodbank. Costs include warehouse space to sort and stock donated food and other overheads like utilities and insurances. The foodbank welcomes any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at https://taunton.foodbank.org.uk/