A FOODBANK is warning that it has seen an increase in the number of users as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold of the UK.

With the price of food, fuel, and bills rising, and inflation hitting a 40-year high, more and more people are turning to foodbanks to feed themselves and their families.

That is no different in Andover, with foodbanks in the area seeing a rise in the number of foodbank users.

Jenny LeLean, manager of the Andover Foodbank, has warned that the number of foodbank users is increasing as people struggle to pay their bills.

Jenny said: “It’s difficult to specify when the cost-of-living crisis started because, obviously, the impact of Covid and everything is still playing into what we’re dealing with at the moment.

“Prior to the pandemic, foodbank use had a specific pattern across the year.

“So, our busiest months were November, December, January, February, and then we would slowly decrease during the spring months and the summer months.

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“We’d have a little spike in September, when all the children went back to school and parents were struggling with school uniforms and things like that, and the cost of the summer builds up to that point, and then we see a slow increase back up to our busy time of year.

“What we’ve seen this year is that numbers are not going down; so, we’ve stayed up at the January, which is our busiest month, level, through to this point now.

“In that we have a little bit of support that we are giving to the Ukrainian refugees but take that out we’re actually still at a January level in May which is not usual.”

The Trussell Trust, which supports the Andover Foodbank, has predicted a 14 percent rise in users nationwide due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Even though the foodbank has seen an increase in the numbers of users, Jenny does not believe that it is be likely that the foodbank’s resources will be over stretched.

Jenny explained: “There’s always that risk, but we have reserves; we’re a well organised charity, so we have reserves we can draw on.

“It depends on how long it lasts.

“We’re quite an established foodbank, we’ve been going for quite a long time as foodbanks go, we’ve been here for 16 years.

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“So, we have quite a lot of experience on board.

“We’ve managed through the pandemic, we saw the financial crash in 2008, we’ve seen the rollout of universal credit and austerity and stuff, so we’ve got quite flexible processes of how we manage our food stock.

“It’s going to be a difficult time, and we’ll be working really, really hard, but we’re not on the floor at the moment.”

Most users are referred to foodbanks from 1 of over 100 agencies across Andover such as adult services or GPs.

After being assessed by those agencies, and found to be in need, they are sent to the foodbank with an e-voucher which entitles them to food.

The foodbank will then assess the user’s situation, such as if they live alone or are part of a family unit, as well as dietary needs, before providing them with 3 days’ worth of food.

The foodbank also provides vouchers for users to use at the Andover food market, allowing users to get fresh fruit and veg, as well as cheese, bread and bacon.

The Andover Foodbank was first founded in 2006; it provided food to over 5,600 people in the Test Valley in 2020.

More information about the Andover Foodbank can be found at https://andover.foodbank.org.uk/.

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