MILTON Keynes Food Bank is in the throes of a summer crisis, with rows of empty shelves yet hundreds of hungry mouths to feed.
Food parcel stocks are so low that the charity has been forced to go to supermarkets and spend £1,000 on essentials over the past two weeks.
They have seen a dramatic increase in demand since the beginning of the school holidays – simply because hundreds of children are not getting their free school meals.
“For many children the school holidays are a time of dread because they know they will be hungry. Their parents do their best but it is often genuinely impossible to find the money for those extra meals,” said MK Food Bank project manager John Marshall.
To make matters worse, July and August are traditionally the worse time of year for food bank donations.
This week the food bank, the Citizen’s adopted charity of the year, is launching a massive appeal for stock.
They need baked beans, long life juice, long life milk, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, tinned tuna, tea bags, dried rice and pasta, tinned meat, tinned spaghetti, tinned rice pudding, biscuits, breakfast cereal, pasta sauce, soup, sugar and jam.
Donations can be dropped off Bletchley’s Asda supermarket any time, or at the food bank warehouse at 9 Hollin Lane, Stacey Bushes on any weekday mornings except Thursdays. There are also collection points at Milton Keynes Christian Centre in Oldbrook on weekdays between 9am and 4pm and the Church of Christ the Cornerstone between 9.30am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday.
> The charity is also calling for businesses, clubs and organisations to arrange their own collection. Anybody willing to help can call MK 322800.
> A NEW Friends of the Food Bank scheme aims to find 100 new collection points all over the city.
The charity is seeking businesses or organisations willing to have a permanent food collection box on their premises.
When it is full, food bank volunteers will collect it then return it to be filled again.
One problem though is finding suitable collection receptacles. Currently volunteer collectors use anything from cardboard boxes and carrier bags to plastic bins.
“It would be wonderful to have standardised receptacles with stick on signage that would look smart in an office foyer,” said manager John Marshall.
Any company that could provide study boxes or bins or help with printing, can call the food bank on MK 322800 or call the Citizen newsdesk.
> MORE than a third of all families on six city estates are poor enough to qualify for free school meals.
On average 13 per cent of youngsters qualify for free lunches.
But on six city estates this figure exceeds 35 per cent. And on one estate it is as high as 46 per cent.
Already this year MK Food Bank has given out 4,559 food parcels to people in genuine need.
Some 1,528 were for children aged under 16 years old.