Thousands are helped as demand for food banks in Mansfield continues to soar

The demand for emergency food parcels in Mansfield continues to soar, according to new figures.

By Richard Silverwood
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 3:03 pm
Manager Keith Hadfield (left) and fellow volunteer Glen Parker unloading some donations to the Sherwood Forest Food Bank, which has centres in Mansfield Woodhouse and Mansfield.
Manager Keith Hadfield (left) and fellow volunteer Glen Parker unloading some donations to the Sherwood Forest Food Bank, which has centres in Mansfield Woodhouse and Mansfield.

So much so that the amount of donations to one food bank is no longer matching the amount of food that is being handed out to the needy.

The figures come from the Trussell Trust, a charity tackling poverty which runs the country’s largest network of food banks.

As the cost of living crisis bites, the trust has disclosed that 4,212 food parcels were given to people in Mansfield during the year to March.

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The amount of food being handed out by the Sherwood Forest Food Bank in Mansfield is currently outstripping the amount that is coming in.

This represents a huge rise from 2,602 in the same period last year, and up 21 per cent on the 3,473 provided in the year to March, 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There has definitely been a big increase,” said Keith Hadfield, manager of the Sherwood Forest Food Bank, based at The Stable Centre in Mansfield Woodhouse and at St Peter’s Church in Mansfield.

“Since January 1, we have fed 250 more people, a total of 1,463, than we did over the same period two years ago.

"Last month, we had 3,871 kilograms of food donated by the public or bought in by ourselves. But going out was 4,844 kilograms.

“Two weeks ago, we reached crisis point because our cupboard was empty. Last week, I had to go out and buy £2,000 of food with our own money, donated by the public or obtained via grants.

"All the donations are fantastic but, at the moment, they are not enough to keep things going.”

The food bank helps people or families who have been allocated vouchers by designated agencies, such as social services, schools, councils or charities.

Keith, 68, disclosed that between January and April 2020, 543 vouchers were processed. But over the same period this year, that figure has risen to 719.

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Alarmingly, says the trust, in the year to March, 35 per cent of the parcels handed out in Mansfield, a total of 1,472, were given to children.

Typically, food parcels contain three days’ worth of food, but supply is being outstripped by demand.

"We are constantly chasing our tails,” said Keith. “I could go out and buy £600 worth of food every week just to top things up.

"We have various collection points, and we have a fabulous relationship with the Aldi, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco supermarkets.

“Over the weekend of May 6, 7 and 8, we are hosting a special food drive at Asda in Forest Town when people can make donations.

"We are particularly in need of tins of stuff such as beans, soup, spaghetti, vegetables, fish, fruit and rice pudding.”

The Sherwood Forest food bank is run entirely by volunteers, with Keith at the helm of a team of about 30. More volunteers would be welcomed.

The food bank at the Stable Centre opens between 1.30 pm and 4 pm every Monday and Thursday, while the one at the church opens every Wednesday morning.

Across the East Midlands as a whole, 126,877 parcels were handed out by 86 food banks, run by the Trussell Trust, in the year to March.

Emma Revie, the charity’s chief executive, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals and turning off essential appliances so they can feed their children.

"How can this be right in a society like ours?”