Demand for help from Chorley’s food bank has grown tenfold in two years.
Living Waters Storehouse, based at Living Waters Church on Bolton Street, provided food parcels to 12 people when it opened in April 2012.
But it now helps between 120 and 130 people on average each month.
The shocking increase follows a national trend in more and more people relying on handouts from food banks.
Carol Halton, project co-ordinator, said: “At the moment the referrals are rising every month.
“Over Christmas, it went to 200 a month.
“Now they have come down a bit, but we still give 120 to 130 a month.”
The recession and changes to the benefits system have been blamed for the rise in the number of people needing help from food banks.
Carol says the majority of people face financial issues while waiting to receive benefits or if the payments are stopped for any reason.
She said: “Eighty per cent of people, if not more, come in because of an issue with their benefits.
“Other reasons can be a marriage break-up, sickness, job-seekers who can’t find work, or people whose businesses have failed due to the recession.”
Because of the massive demand, the Storehouse has already received funding to allow it to expand into another part of the church.
And a large fund-raiser is being planned for later in the year, which it is hoped will attract people from across Chorley.
The Storehouse provides bags of food for people in crisis, who have been referred by GPs, the job centre or other agencies.
Many have not eaten for days or have missed meals in order to give the food they do have to their children.
Carol said: “One man came in and said all he had eaten in three days was a packet of cornflakes. He didn’t even have milk.
“Another lady said she had been going hungry so she could give more to her children. Her children were okay, because she was making sure they were fed, but she was starving.”
People who go to the food bank are offered a cooked meal and given a parcel of food to last them for four days.
They include basic supplies such as tinned meat, long-life milk, pasta and sauces, and soup.
If available, people are also given treats such as biscuits and sweets, which they may not have eaten for some time.
Families are given up to five bags of food, depending on the number of people.
Often people do not have cars, so the food is put in strong “bags for life” to ensure they do not break.
People can receive three referrals to the food bank in a year and the Storehouse hopes to soon have agencies visiting to provide further advice, such as on housing and employment.
Carol said: “We are looking at the bigger picture. We are looking a lot deeper than just food to help these people.”
The Storehouse is run by volunteers and relies on donations from businesses, churches, groups and individuals across Chorley.
Many have held food collections, particularly at harvest, to give to the Storehouse.
Carol said: “I’m amazed that the Chorley community, when a crisis comes, can get on board so quickly.
“Churches especially can all get together for a cause. They can put their own projects almost to one side to help their community.”
As well as food, money is needed to pay for the hot meals and to buy any extra food for parcels.
The Storehouse now has green collection tins, which it is hoped will be placed in prominent places around the borough for people to make donations.
Carol said: “The meals cost roughly £4 a person.
“We are always asking for sponsors or donations of £4. It’s a chance for someone to have a decent meal and have a chat with someone.”
And while more and more donations are needed now, it is hoped that one day the food bank will be able to close.
Carol said: “We are hoping we won’t need to give so many donations in future.
“The long-term aim is that Chorley won’t need a food bank at all.”
- Donations can be made at Living Waters Church between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, as well as at various collections organised around the borough.
Money can also be given online via www.facebook.com/LWStorehouse.