Leeds food banks could face back-to-school rush

Tricia Ryder.
Tricia Ryder.

Food banks in Leeds could see a rush for emergency packs at the end of the summer holidays as children head back to school, according to a service manager.

Although “holiday hunger” traditionally means more families are turning to the services to fill the gap of free school meals, Leeds North and West Foodbank distribution centre manager Tricia Ryder thinks that the weeks following the break will also be busy.

She said this is because a “core group” who are desperate for meals, but do not want to use food banks while their children are at home because of embarrassment, seek out help at the beginning of term instead when youngsters are out of the house.

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Mrs Ryder said: “We may get the same families who have been struggling in the summer holidays still struggling after six weeks of having [no food].”

She added: “The first couple of weeks into September we quite often see that core group who didn’t come mainly because they didn’t want to bring the kids.”

Expenses such as buying new school uniforms or unexpected bills may also send them beyond their financial means.

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Despite generous donations coming in from the public, Leeds food bank warehouses and distribution centres have had scant resources during the past few weeks.

Speaking today, Mrs Ryder said that the Moortown distribution centre had only 12 jars of pasta sauce.

Each family gets two jars, so only six can be taken for the whole of the area during the next drop-in session.

Similarly, the same distribution centre only has four toilet rolls and three bottles of shampoo left for the next group of referrals.

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“That will go to the first family who comes in on Friday,” said Mrs Ryder. “We are getting food donated, and the general public are absolutely fabulous at that. But it’s almost going out as quickly as it’s coming in.”

Items which are needed include soup, coffee, biscuits and toiletries.

The YEP recently re-started its Feed A Family campaign, which calls on readers and businesses to donate essentials to services catering for those in need across the city.