Struggling families in the Midhurst area have received more than five tonnes of food over the school summer holidays from the town’s food bank.
The number of lunch boxes given out for children who would normally have free school meals has been even greater than volunteers expected and is almost double the number given out last summer when some 70 children received them. This year the figure has leapt to 130.
Over the six week summer holiday, parents of children who have free school meals get vouchers for three rounds of boxes to cover the holidays, receiving one every fortnight.
Mike Abbott, who set up the Midhurst foodbank in September 2014 with his wife Chrissy, said 373 lunch boxes had been made up with 27 items in each box.
This represents 5.2 tonnes of food, including 1,400 cans of vegetables, 1,400 cans of fruit and 800 litres of milk.
It is around a tonne more than the Midhurst foodbank expected to deal with and it has cost £3,300 to fill the boxes.
But Mike said the generosity of people had been overwhelming: “The good people of Midhurst have given us almost the whole amount – it has almost been self financing this summer, which is fantastic.”
He paid tribute to generous donations from The Masonic Lodge at Midhurst, Midhurst Lions, a private trust, a MADhurst event and almost 50 individuals who had donated money so that volunteers could order food from Tesco and from wholesalers.
“We have been rushed off our feet,” he said. “We are a rural area and unlike Chichester or Guildford, we can’t tell people to come and collect boxes. If they don’t have cars it is impossible to carry boxes weighing 14kgs and we have been delivering them as far afield as Petworth, Rogate and Lynchmere as well as around Midhurst.”
He said the high numbers of people in need had surprised volunteers, adding: “It is only going to get worse I am afraid.”
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