Church foodbank warns of hunger crisis

Volunteers at St Gregory’s foodbank in north Glasgow say they may have to start turning people away.

The foodbank, founded by parishioners at St Gregory’s, Wynford, feeds around 350 people weekly, and has issued a plea for more support saying their food stocks are going down ‘rapidly’ and that it is ‘just a matter of time’ before they have to turn people away.

According to the British Retail Consortium, food prices have gone up 5.1% this year already and with St Gregory’s already serving around 55 more people a week than last year, they are expecting to need to make cutbacks.

Eileen Low, a volunteer at St Gregory’s, said the foodbank includes extra items such as eggs and frozen meat to add protein, but that ‘when the crunch eventually hits, those are the things we will cut back on first.’

Ms Low said one supermarket the food- bank shops at raised the price of cheese from £4.35 to £5.99 within a week.

St Gregory’s has been seeing more people of pensionable age coming to the foodbank ‘maybe being expected to support children, or maybe help feed their grandchildren.’

“And so their pension isn’t stretching,” she said. “And these people find it incredibly humiliating and demoralising to come down to a food bank asking for what they see as charity when never in their lives before have they been down that road.”

The foodbank was initially started by parishioners at St Gregory’s and operated every weekday throughout the pandemic. Volunteers now come from various backgrounds.

For the past two years the foodbank has collaborated with parishioners at St Andrew’s, Bearsden, who would uplift sell-by goods from Marks and Spencer’s and bring them during weekdays to the store.

“That’s a Herculean task,” Low said, “and a big commitment. Without what they bring, we’d have very poor pickings and we’d have had to buy an awful lot more stuff.

“But we’re noticing that is beginning to subtly fall off. Either the stores have got better ordering systems, or they’re making more use of their own end of sell-by date goods by selling them off cheaper in store.”

Low said it lets the foodbank see ‘how vulnerable we are to fairly small fluctuations in either food or cash.’

St Gregory’s foodbank costs around £2,500 a month to run, and if they cannot cover it they only have a four-month back-up before ‘we’d really have to close doors,’ Low said.

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