A local food bank has seen referrals soar as members of the Cumbria community struggle to feed themselves and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Salvation Army in Penrith has seen an increase in its food bank service to three days a week as it mobilises to cope with growing demand and last month saw more than 300 people supported through the provision.
Now operating on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at its church located on Hunter Lane, the International church and charitable organisation was helping approximately 100 people a month with food parcels before the national crisis however last month supported 300 people, more than triple the amount seen before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK and nationwide lockdowns were put in place.
The food parcels were provided for vulnerable members of the community which saw requests from individuals but also a growing number of families as more and more people find themselves pushed into poverty.
Along with referrals from Citizens Advice and the local council, The Salvation Army Penrith is working in partnership with schools and is assisting up to ten families a week; a figure larger than the charity has ever seen pass through its food bank provision before.
Major Alan Donaldson, joint leader of The Salvation Army Penrith said: “The number of people we are now helping with food donations has increased considerably since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and we expect the numbers to continue to rise.
“Cumbria is well-known for its hospitality and self-employed trade and it’s no secret that those have been the industries worst hit as loss of income becomes a stark reality for many.
“The food bank and providing essential supplies to those in need is part of our mission for the church and to serve suffering humanity is the mission of the Salvation Army in general; we don’t want people to face hardship at this tough time and can’t see people go hungry. For many, using a foodbank is not a situation they have ever found themselves in before and suddenly are now relying on it.”
Social distancing measures are fully practiced throughout the food bank with all volunteers observing the Government’s two metre guidance and all donations are isolated for a period of 72 hours before it is packaged into food parcels, and face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser are in use constantly.
The Salvation Army Penrith has launched a Just Giving page which can be donated to in order to support the work the organisation is doing locally; www.justgiving.com/penrith-salvation-army and cheque donations can also be sent direct to the church on Hunter Lane.
Major Donaldson added: “Now is the time that people us more than ever and we are working hard to ensure that food and supplies are available at this time of national crisis. We want to thank everyone that has supported us in our quest to serve the local community.”
The Salvation Army’s church in Penrith has two drop off points; Morrisons and Booths, both located on Brunswick Road, for food donations however only essential travel is encouraged, in line with Government guidelines.