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Foodbanks adapt supplies as more people forced to live in tents says Christian foodbank manager

by Donna Birrell

Foodbanks are having to adapt the types of food given out because more people are living in tents and temporary accommodation as the cost of living crisis bites.

That's according to the manager of a Trussell Trust Foodbank in Cornwall.

Simon Fann says his facility is expecting to feed 4200 people this year – before Covid around 2800 came to the Foodbank, with 3600 in the first year of the pandemic.

He tells Premier some of his clients are now homeless and living in tents, despite being in work: “It’s all going in the wrong direction.

"We’re seeing a lot more young, particularly single men coming in, people that in some circumstances had accommodation before, but have now found themselves in a situation they cannot afford to keep it. I'm particularly thinking of a couple of young lads who are in their early twenties. They now can't afford to live in any accommodation, so they're living in tents.

“We have to be able to supply food depending upon what appliances people have to cook with. It's no good giving somebody a standard food box if they haven't got an oven or microwave. We have to think about people in cars, people in Travelodges who might only have a kettle. So we have a specific kettle pack as well. So the challenge of foodbanks is not just supplying food, but the appropriate type of food for the person’s circumstances.

“We’re already feeding more NHS staff, teachers, police, community support officers, postman, taxi drivers, you name it. There's a whole raft of people, particularly care workers that were brought in to foodbanks when all the petrol prices went up. Because if you've got to pay for your own fuel as part of your job, and the agency or employer won't pay you any more fuel allowance, then it's going to massively affect your income. That’s the straw that for a few people has broken the camel's back and they ended up at a food bank.

“We’re finding families who have never ever thought they'd be needing a foodbank coming in almost like rabbits caught in a headlight asking if we can help them.”

Truro foodbank has actually seen an increase in donations of food, unlike many other foodbanks which are experiencing a slowing down.

Simon Fann says a new strategy is needed in order to combat poverty in the long-term.

This week he took part in a Cost of Living Summit in Cornwall looking at reforms to the basic income and calling for a Cornwall Living Wage: “We need to root and base all of this in prayer.  

"We're not sure what we're meant to take out of this, whether it's a relook at what we do with our lives or priorities, but certainly, the fact of organisations like foodbanks at the moment being necessary, then we will need their provision to survive – whether that is volunteers, whether that is a financial donation, whether that is food donations.

"So certainly root it in prayer, but also, if you can, please do continue to give food donations and if you can, a financial donation to your local foodbank would probably be the best way of trying to ensure that it has the wherewithal to be able to keep going for as long as possible.”

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