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High demand sees another food bank open in county
ANOTHER food bank is set to open in Oxfordshire as the demand on the services increases across the county.
Carterton mayor Lynn Little said she took the decision to open one in the town because so many people use the existing facility in Witney.
She said: “There is a need for it because over the last few years we have had the recession, utility bills have gone up and the cost of food has continued to rise.”
It will be the second in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency.
Oxfordshire West Food Bank at Elim Church, in Witney’s West End, was set up about 18 months ago and has since then helped more than 200 people.
Volunteer Julie Walker-Lock said: “We are outgrowing our little space in the church and so we are seeing the demand grow that way.
“We give out about five to eight parcels a week now but when we started it was only one or two.
“More people need help now. We are open five days a week and see a steady flow of people.”
Cllr Little said she has a team of volunteers ready for the Carterton operation and has enlisted help from the food bank in Witney and RAF Brize Norton.
Robin Aitkin, manager of Oxford Food Bank in Ray Mills House, Lamarsh Road, said his operation had grown since it started in 2009.
He said: “We reckon we contribute about 1,000 meals a day. We have grown over the last four years, but that is also down to more efficiency on our part.”
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, operates the Bicester and Banbury banks. Bicester’s is run out of the Methodist Church and Banbury’s from the People’s Church.
It released figures showing the number of people relying on the food bank in Bicester has risen from 1,087 in 2010/2011 to 1,687 in 2011/2012 and 1,951 in 2012/2013 – almost doubling over two years.
And in Banbury, it rose from 199 in 2011/2012, the first year it opened, to 928 in 2012/2013.
Bicester Food Bank manager Janet Ray said the demand was so great now it was going to open five days a week instead of only Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes.
She said: “We have seen an increase each year that we have been open. In 2007, we would help about 12 families each week but now we are getting 28 families.”
Evidence from Trussell Trust food banks show that rising living costs, April’s welfare reforms and stagnant wages are forcing more people to live on a “financial knife edge”. Executive chairman Chris Mould said: “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.
“It is scandalous and is causing deep distress to thousands of people.”
The other food banks are The Community Emergency Foodbank, at St Francis Church, Hollow Way, Cowley, which was founded in 2008, and North Oxfordshire Community Foodbank at Kidlington Baptist Church, formed by Christian churches in 2010. .
A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.
Labour MP Frank Field, appointed by David Cameron as the Government’s poverty adviser, will head up the committee along with Conservative Laura Sandys.
It will investigate the impact of benefit cuts, low wages and high food prices.
Mr Cameron was unavailable for comment.
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