More families ‘close to crisis’ are turning to Midhurst Foodbank

Midhurst foodbank volunteers hand out more food boxes than ever before. Photo by Derek Martin.
Midhurst foodbank volunteers hand out more food boxes than ever before. Photo by Derek Martin.

The numbers are already up on last year as volunteers at Midhurst Foodbank prepare to hand out lunch boxes this summer holidays, to children who would normally receive free school meals.

Last summer they provided food for 72 children and this year as the long holiday starts the number has already gone up to 116.

Over the six week summer holiday they expect to hand out some 350 lunch boxes in the Midhurst area amounting to over 4.2 tonnes of food.

Principal organiser Chrissy Abbott said: “With the children at home, greater pressure is put on tight family budgets, so the Midhurst Centre is meeting a real need.”

Lunch boxes have gone out to some 53 families in Rogate, Fernhurst, Hammer. Lynchmere, Stedham, Harting, Rake, Cocking and Easebourne as well as Midhurst.

The aim is to provide hard pressed parents with enough food for the child for two weeks of lunches in lieu of the school meals.

Each box contains 14kg - or around 30lbs - of food including cereals, milk, tinned meat, pasta, tins of fruit and baked beans.

Parents of children who have free school meals, get vouchers from the schools for three rounds of boxes to cover the holidays.

If the current rate is maintained in Midhurst some 350 lunch boxes will be given out.

Midhurst is part of the Trussell Trust, one of the biggest providers of foodbanks in the country and it has revealed that one third of food given out by its foodbanks go to primary school children.

“This is highlighting just how close to crisis many families are living. This pattern seems to be replicated in Midhurst too,” said Chrissy.

So far the food handed out in the first 116 boxes includes 300 cans of meat, 400 tins of vegetables, 400 tins of fruit, 200 litres of milk and 100 litres of orange juice.

“If this amount is repeated three times it will equate to over 4.2 tonnes of food,” said Chrissy.

Each fortnightly round of lunch boxes costs about £1,100 in addition to any donated food.

The food is sourced from donations at collecting baskets in Budgens and Tesco and by cash donations which buy supplies through wholesalers.

Chrissy said: “We have received generous funding from a private trust, Midhurst Lions, many individuals and businesses in the town and Gartons who provide us with tea and coffee to sustain us. It is a real community effort.”

This year the food packing is being carried out by year 6 Midhurst Primary School children as well as volunteers from Midhurst Parish Church and all the churches in Midhurst and Easebourne.

Financial gifts should be made out to Chichester District Foodbank and sent to St Ann’s Hall, St Ann’s Hill, Midhurst.

The foodbank is open routinely in the hall on Fridays between 3pm-5pm but those unable to visit can also phone for help on 07826 397732.

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