FOOD parcels handed out in Brentwood have shot up by more than 600 per cent over the last six months.
Brentwood Foodbank ran by volunteers from two churches, the Dodd Road Free Evangelical and Breakthru Church, has gone from giving out three parcels a month in 2011 to 20 per month since April this year.
Parcels are made up from donations made by the public and supermarkets, normally containing non-perishable foods such as tinned fruit, powdered milk, vegetables and pasta.
Joy Kitchener, the main organiser at Breakthru Church, Primose Hill, said there are many reasons why people have to get food parcels.
But she said nobody should worry about being forced to accept a parcel.
Mrs Kitchener said: “We judge no-one, there could be a host of reasons that a person needs a food voucher.
“We’re here for those who need us. We give them a cup of tea, a biscuit and chat.
‘It’s very important that people do not reach crisis point, it’s much better if they get a food voucher and come here to get help. No-one should go hungry to bed in Brentwood.
“Whatever the situation, whatever the demand is, we will respond to it until we see it subside.”
Brentwood child poverty estimates, taken in 2010, show Hutton North had 18% of children living below the breadline, while Brentwood South and North wards received 17% and 14% respectively.
People can collect a parcel of food by exchanging a voucher with the charity, which is supported by the Trussell Trust.
Stocks of vouchers are available from organisations including Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Brentwood Council, GP surgeries around the borough.
Mrs Kitchener said: “Local organisations receive food vouchers that they give to those in need.
“They then come to us, and we give them a food parcel with three days’ worth of food in, in exchange for the voucher. It’s very well organised.”
For more information or to get involved, visit www.brentwoodfoodbank.org.uk or call 01277 299189.