St Albans foodbank in danger of closing without new warehouse

PUBLISHED: 11:54 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 29 October 2018

St Albans and District Foodbank warehouse. Picture: St Albans and District Foodbank

St Albans and District Foodbank warehouse. Picture: St Albans and District Foodbank

Archant

St Albans’ foodbank will have to stop its operations if it cannot find a new storage site by February next year.

St Albans and District Foodbank. Photo: Hertfordshire Community FoundationSt Albans and District Foodbank. Photo: Hertfordshire Community Foundation

Owners of the Harpenden warehouse currently used by St Albans and District Foodbank have notified the charity that they need the property back for their own operations.

The foodbank need to find a new space, fast - if a suitable site cannot be acquired in time all emergency food operations may have to be halted.

For the year ending in March 2018, nearly 3,000 people relied on the St Albans and District Foodbank to provide three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food in a crisis.

This is three times the number of people who used the service three years ago.

St Albans and District Foodbank warehouse. Picture: St Albans and District FoodbankSt Albans and District Foodbank warehouse. Picture: St Albans and District Foodbank

Foodbank manager Emma Dalton said: “As well as increasing the availability of distribution points in the last three years we can see that the rise in demand is due to growing poverty in the district.

“This is caused by a number of issues including delays in benefits, inability to pay high electricity, gas and food bills, and low wages.”

To be suitable, the new building must have at least 700 sq ft of space and be available to rent at lower than commercial rates.

Emma added: “Many of our clients are struggling because of the Universal Credit transition period, families with children to feed can find they have no money coming in for up to five weeks and they just can’t cope.

“There’s a growing number of working poor – often households are already struggling, living a hand to mouth existence but just about coping. Then a big repair bill comes in or they need to kit out a child for secondary school and there’s no money left for food.”

One of the people who used St Albans foodbank has spoken out about how indispensable the service has been for her.

The mother of three is a victim of domestic abuse who would like to stay anonymous: “You feel bad you can’t supply what you need for your children but nobody here judges you. As well as help with feeding your family, you’re also given so much care and support, it really helped me to cope.”

She was given tinned and dried food which meant her limited funds could go towards fresh ingredients like meat and milk.

St Albans foodbank is part of a nationwide network supported by The Trussell Trust.

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