Almost 30 people had to rely on Chippenham’s emergency food bank last month.
The food bank, run by the Salvation Army, provides three days of supplies to people in crisis who are referred by agencies such as social services, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, the probation service and children’s centres.
Rising food and fuel costs, combined with redundancies and changes to benefits, meant last month 28 people, including eight children, would have gone hungry without the food bank. In December, the food parcels helped feed 46 people including 22 children.
The previous December the food bank fed 32 people, including seven children.
The main reason given to qualify for the service was cuts or delays to benefits. It is a stopgap service and people are not allowed to use it more than three times.
The UK has had little need for food banks because of the welfare system but the recession is being blamed for the demand which has led to thousands being started up in recent years. Chippenham’s began in November 2010.
Jean Legg-Bagg, 61, of Monkton Park, made a donation at Foghamshire last Friday.
She said: “We have the impression that Chippenham is a wealthy place. We were talking at church about a Gazette article on child poverty and it made the need obvious. It’s good to be reminded that there are people in need.”
Volunteer Jenny Coates said: “We don’t get many pensioners using the service. I don’t know if this is because a lot of elderly people are connected with churches.
“I worry that there may be need but people don’t know about us, or can’t bring themselves to come and ask for help.
"We had a man who suddenly went down with diabetes and couldn’t work any more. Because he was self-employed, within a week the family was destitute.
“There were tears – no-one wants to do this.”
Sheldon School made a large donation after Year 12 student Catherine Mattimoe started a collection and another is expected in the next few weeks.
The Salvation Army receives most donations at harvest time, but at other times it can run short. It is asking particularly for long life milk, cereal and tins of meat. Kidney beans and tinned vegetables are not popular.
Donations can be made to the Salvation Army on Wednesdays from 9-11am and Fridays from 10-11.30am, or to Revelation in River Street.
The Salvation Army will be at Morrisons, Chippenham, on April 26, from 10am to 6pm, to encourage shoppers to contribute an item to the food bank.