Glasgow foodbanks’ emergency appeal after school holidays leave shelves bare

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Poverty and holiday hunger has lead to more families turning to emergency food this summer and has left foodbanks in desperate need of donations

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16th August 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

An emergency food collection is being held in Glasgow this weekend after two of the city’s foodbanks reported they are at crisis point.

Hillington Park Parish Church and Ibrox Parish Church foodbanks say their stocks are at dangerously low levels due to an upsurge in desperate parents turning to them for help over the costly school summer holidays.

The two Church of Scotland foodbanks feed hundreds of people every week from the Govan, Craigton, Pollok and Ibrox areas.

On Saturday an appeal for non-perishable goods is being held at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow before the football match between Rangers and Motherwell.

Claire McCunnie from the Ibrox Parish Church foodbank said the situation is becoming desperate.

Demand has definitely increased over the summer and we’re in desperate need of stock

“Stocks are really very low, we’ve no juice or tomatoes left and very little veg and milk,” she said.

“I think the school holidays have had an impact, with parents having to feed children who would normally receive a free school meal. 

“Demand has definitely increased over the summer and we’re in desperate need of stock.”

Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, the secretary of Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council and chair of the Food Poverty Group, which in June called for the Scottish Government to top up child benefit and look at ways to provide healthy meals during summer months, says hunger is a growing problem in Scotland.

“That the shelves are empty in our foodbanks reflects the reality that the cupboards are completely bare in many people’s homes," he said. "We have to do all we can to change that and any efforts to replenish the stock of emergency food is to be deeply welcomed.

"Alongside that effort we need to tackle the bigger problem – that too many people do not have enough money to feed themselves and their families. That is about low wages and zero hour contracts. It’s about failings within our benefits system and the failure of benefits to keep pace with the rising cost of food, fuel and housing.

"Yes we need an emergency response, and thank God for those who yet again will respond generously. However, if the issue is not to simply keep re-occurring every few months then we need to tackle the root of the problem. That is about the lack of money.”

Supporters of both clubs are being asked to bring dried goods such as UHT milk, pasta sauce, tinned tomatoes and tinned vegetables and to dig deep into their pockets and make a financial donation if possible at one of the collection buckets around the stadium.

Connal Cochrane, director of the Rangers Charity Foundation, which has helped organise the collection, said people living in the area are in dire need: “The foundation has supported the Glasgow South West Foodbank for over two years now and the fans have always been incredibly generous in their support,” he added.

“We were overwhelmed last season by the amount of food donated at our matchday collection and the staff at the foodbank at Ibrox were very relieved to see the empty shelves replenished.

“We hope fans will show their charitable spirit once again and help local people in dire need by bringing along a few groceries to the game against Motherwell.” 

Although the Ibrox appeal will help just the two specific foodbanks there are fears the situation regarding lack of stock due to increase in demand brought on by the school holidays could be replicated across the country.

Holiday hunger is a concern that has been widely reported this summer so much so that a number of organisations have been running extra services over July and August to help alleviate the problem.

In Ayrshire St Columba’s Church set up a feeding programme for pupils from the Lochside area of Ayr which is among the 40 poorest areas of Scotland.

It opened and fed 153 children after a local headteacher expressed fears that pupils would go hungry during the school holidays due to them not getting access to their usual free school meal.

In the east of the country, Penicuik North Kirk in Midlothian ran its No Kid Goes Hungry summer lunch project providing five lunches a week to 49 children referred by the council’s children and families unit.

Children in Scotland’s Food, Families, Futures (FFF) programme – saw Dalmarnock and Ibrox primary schools stay open during the summer to offer families free meals and activities.

However demand was so high that 60% more families than they had capacity for asked to be part of the free summer holiday clubs.

Jackie Brock, the charity's chief executive, said there is undoubtedly demand for additional help and support for families during the school holidays.

"Anecdotally, we know from both parents and the children who attended that these clubs, and others like them, not only reduce the pressure on parents to provide activities and entertainment over the long summer holiday period but also ensure children from the most deprived areas can receive at least one nutritious meal a day," she added.

"We believe that the holiday clubs in Ibrox and Dalmarnock could act as a blueprint for schools, councils and communities to address some of the challenges many families in Scotland face during the holidays – including the shameful problem of holiday hunger."

The Trussell Trust doesn’t yet have statistics on its foodbank usage over the summer available but said anecdotally it has heard of an increase in people using its services.

A spokesperson told TFN that its Aberdeen North Foodbank which ran a Make Lunch club over the school holidays gave out almost the same amount of meals this summer over a six week period as it did over all 10 weeks of the summer, October and Easter holiday periods in 2015.

Foodbank collection details

Glasgow foodbanks’ emergency appeal after school holidays leave shelves bare

Supporters of both clubs will be able to donate items outside the Rangers Megastore (pictured: (C) Leslie Barry) on Saturday up to 3pm and those not attending but who would like to help are invited to drop donations off during office hours up until 5pm on Friday at the foundation’s offices at Argyle House, Ibrox Stadium.

Fans are asked to bring dried goods listed below and to dig deep into their pockets and make a financial donation if possible at one of the collection buckets around the stadium.

Full list of items required: UHT or powdered milk, sugar, fruit juice in cartons, pasta sauces, tinned sponge pudding and rice pudding, tinned tomatoes and other vegetables, tinned fruit,tinned meat and fish, rice and pasta, cereal, jam, tea and instant coffee, biscuits or snack bars, Instant mash potatoes, tinned soup, tinned beans, and toiletries including toilet roll, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products.

Do you run a foodbank that is in need of extra donations this summer? Leave a comment below or email [email protected].