Demand for Food Banks soar in Ceredigion


Ben Lake MP and Elin Jones AM meet Ceredigion Food Bank representatives to discuss the current demand in the county and to understand why people in rural communities are increasingly in need of emergency food supplies.

This week, the Trussell Trust announced their annual food bank stats. In Ceredigion between April 2017 and March 2018, 1515 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis by the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, 580 of which were for children.

Only one of Ceredigion’s three current food banks is registered with the Trussell Trust with both Aberystwyth and Lampeter food banks distributing food parcels independently. Recent figures from the Aberystwyth Food Bank show that the number of food parcels handed out has significantly increased over the past 5 years - with the 136 food parcels distributed in 2012 increasing to 681 food parcels in 2017. Benefit delays or cuts to benefit payments accounted for 49% of those food parcels. Cardigan and Lampeter food banks have witnessed similar patterns of use.

Ceredigion’s 4th food bank will open its doors in Llandysul on 20 May, showing that poverty and demand for emergency food supplies is not an isolated problem affecting only our most populated areas.

Lleucu Meinir, Llandysul Food Bank representative said:

“We decided that there was a need for an official food bank in the Llandysul area especially with the imminent roll-out of Universal Credit in Ceredigion which is likely to force families into a spiral of debt. The process of establishing Llandysul Food Bank has happened under the umbrella of ‘Golau’, a group of local Christians. We are extremely grateful to Ysgol Bro Teifi for their vital support and to Lampeter Food Bank volunteers for their advice and guidance during the initial set up process.

Ben Lake said:

“Not a week goes by in our constituency office without being contacted by a constituent affected by a change, a cut or sanction to their benefit. Such impacts are also felt by those defined as the ‘working-poor’ – people who are putting in an honest day’s work but don’t earn enough to make ends meet.

“Food banks in Ceredigion has seen a deeply worrying increase in the number of those who need food parcels. In some respect, this could be attributed to the fantastic work local agencies do in referring people to the service, but there is no doubt that the continued austerity agenda is having a profound impact here in Ceredigion.

The Trussell Trust have also published a report this week into Foodbank’s experience of Universal Credit. A new analysis of 38 food banks across the UK that have been in full Universal Credit rollout areas for a year or more shows that these projects experienced an increase of 52% in the twelve months following the full roll-out date in their area.

During the meeting with Ben Lake and Elin Jones, Ceredigion Food Bank representatives shared their concerns regarding the probable increased pressure on their services following the full roll-out of Universal Credit expected to be implemented in the county in December 2018.

Julia Lim, Lampeter Food Bank representative said:

“We are increasingly concerned about the impact of Universal Credit on households in our community, especially as with limited employers in the area, many self-employed workers in our community will be affected. That this may happen in December this year is of additional concern, when heating bills will be higher, and there are the additional cost pressures of Xmas, together with the holiday office hours for government departments and support agencies over the Xmas and new year period making necessary help and advice less available over the crucial transition time.”

Elin Jones said:

“This increase in foodbank usage is symbolic of the fact that life for many working families is getting harder. The cost of living is mounting at a faster rate than people’s wages are increasing - it’s not surprising that food banks are having to fill the gap.

“I would like to pay tribute to the organisers and volunteers of the Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Lampeter and Llandysul food banks for the way in which they have stepped in to help their neighbours in need. We kindly ask all those who are in a position to do so, to consider giving a donation to their local food bank.”

Ben Lake added:

“The increasing pressure on Ceredigion’s food banks demonstrate the fundamental failure of the UK Government’s austerity measures, but simultaneously demonstrates Ceredigion’s compassion and generosity in supporting those in need.”

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