NEARLY 2,000 people were kept fed by food bank donations in the Chichester district.
According to figures released this week, 1,948 people received three days-worth of emergency food from Chichester district food bank in 2014/15.
The statistics actually show a decrease compared to 2013/14 – when it helped 2,135 people.
Project manager Joanne Kondabeka puts the slight drop down to the longer summer last year – meaning people were able to go longer without turning on the heating and avoided the choice between paying for food or keeping warm.
“Many of the people that come to us are struggling with utility bills,” she said. “I think that’s why our figures kind of dropped.”
The food bank, based in Orchard Street, Chichester, has now spread out with satellite offices in Selsey and Midhurst and a mobile service in Petworth.
However, while use has dropped in the Chichester district, this has bucked the national trend, which saw more than 1,000,000 people get help last year, compared to 900,000 in 2013/14.
In the Chichester district, the top reasons for food bank referral was benefit delay – at 27 per cent of all referrals.
The next two highest were benefit change at 18 per cent and low income at 20 per cent.
Of the 1,948 people given three days of emergency food, 797 were children.
“As our figures show, about 45 per cent of the people that come to us are people that are on benefit delays or benefit changes,” said Mrs Kondabeka.
“Until the Department of Work and Pensions changes the way they do things, we will need food banks.”
She thanked all the Chichester district’s supporters for their ‘amazing support’ with food donations.
“I know there are some people that will criticise food banks and say ‘people should budget’ but if you’ve not got the money you can only budget a certain amount,” she said.
Just last Friday, Mrs Kondabeka said 25 people came to the Chichester foodbank for help.
“So we’re still needed,” she said.
The food bank was the object of the Observer’s Christmas campaign in 2014, with a series of articles highlighting its importance.