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Food banks are growing in importance

LONDON (awp / afp) – “It literally saved my life”. Like millions of Britons, 50-year-old Michael Cox is struggling to cope with rising food prices: he has not eaten for two days and has decided to walk through the door of a food bank.

Dozens of people queued outside the “food bank” in Hackney, a district of east London, on Monday to receive a basket containing three days’ worth of food with a voucher.

Categorized according to the needs of each one, according to the diet and the number of family members.

Food and energy prices are driving inflation to new highs in the United Kingdom: it rose to more than 10% in September, the highest figure among the G7 countries, which are increasingly under household budget pressure.

“With the cost of living crisis, people can’t pay their bills and buy food. They have to choose,” says Johan Egelund, distribution supervisor for the day.

Sidoine Flore Feumba is registered for minimum income, a subsistence allowance in the United Kingdom, which does not allow her to feed her three children, keep them warm and pay for her electricity.

“You were at the bottom as if you couldn’t live without charity,” begins this nurse who is looking for a job after graduation.

attendance record

Johan Egelund is particularly concerned about the onset of cold weather and large heating bills. “If nothing is done this winter will be terrible.”

Last Saturday, Hackney Distribution Center recorded its attendance record.

The food bank is struggling to keep up with current demand, which has doubled since pre-Covid.

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A new distribution window on Friday evenings is set to open in December to allow full-time workers to visit the food bank.

“This is a completely new thing,” says Tanya Whitfield, the center’s director.

The increase in staple foods further worsens the situation. “Everyone sees pasta as the cheap option, but that’s not the case anymore,” he continues.

Vegetable oil (+65%) and pasta (+60%) rose the fastest, according to test data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday. Entry level basic products.

Millions of Britons have been forced to skip meals, according to the latest survey by Consumers Association, and many are now missing out on all the delicious food to buy only the essentials.

Eat cold

The situation for beneficiaries is becoming more precarious: an increasing number of people say they “don’t have money to pay for gas or electricity” and therefore cannot use microwaves or kettles, Ms Whitfield said.

“We have to find food that doesn’t need to be reheated,” she laments. “We’ve never had to do this before.”

Another consequence of the cost-of-living crisis: volunteers decry a significant drop in donations, about 50% from last year. The warehouse, located a few blocks from the distribution center, is far from complete.

During this time, “we’re usually very busy collecting and collecting donations from schools and churches,” says Tanya Whitfield.

But now, schools prefer not to talk about collections so as not to put extra pressure on struggling parents.

“We’re counting on people’s generosity for Christmas. With a bit of luck, we’ll see an increase in donations,” believes Andrew Wildridge, an employee of the warehouse.

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