The cost-of-living crisis has seen Islanders rely more and more on foodbanks with Ventnor Community Foodbank reporting empty shelves in its base last Thursday (April 7).
The independent foodbank has been running for two years, and Tony McCarthy said: “Last Thursday we had 11 households consisting of 17 parents and seven children, and, following a busy Tuesday, our shelves were virtually emptied.
“People are struggling locally due to a combination of factors including food bills, rising petrol prices and the cost of gas and electricity.
“As well as people with disabilities coming to us, we have people who are working but are still struggling.
“In March alone, we had 77 people coming to us, 53 adults and 24 children. So far, April has been even busier. Thursday was the busiest day we have ever had.”
As an independent, Ventnor does not require a voucher or referral and is open every Tuesday and Thursday morning between 10-noon at Ventnor Baptist Church, Pier Street.
Tony added: “We desperately need tinned goods – soup, baked beans, vegetables, potatoes, rice pudding, fish, and custard. Jars of coffee, bags of rice, jars of jam and marmite, men’s shaving foam and razors, shower gel and dog food.
“Items can be dropped off at our donation points, which include, the Coop, Tesco, Carnaby Tea Rooms, St. Catherine’s Church, Norris Stores, Niton and the Baptist Church.”
The situation is similar across the Island with Hannah King, manager of the IW Food Bank, saying: “In March we have 450 people come for help in our centres at Newport, Cowes, Ryde, Cowes, Freshwater and The Bay, which covers the Sandown and Shanklin areas.
“Already in April, the numbers are rising and we have had around 230 in just over a week, which is a massive increase.”
The IW Foodbank operates with the Trussell Trust. It has been running since 2011 and works with 100 professionals including health visitors, staff at schools and social workers identify people in crisis and issues them with a food bank voucher.
This means people can receive a food bank parcel of three days’ nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food from their local food bank.
Hannah added: “We also have a community connector who works with us to help and advise people with things like filling out forms and taking them to appointments.
“We don’t just want to hand out food, we want to help people afterwards.”