More families than ever are relying upon donations from a Scarborough food bank – set up originally to provide meals for the homeless.
The surge in demand has left The Rainbow Centre, in Castle Road, desperately appealing for more donations of food to help keep shelves stocked.
Simon Watterson, director at the centre which has run a food bank since it was set up 16 years ago, said: “We have seen a significant increase in demand, for food in particular.”
He added: “More and more we are seeing young mums with their kids. In the past that would have been very unusual but now it is not uncommon.”
He said families were now asking for help. “We have seen an increase in people approaching us, and a big change in the diversity of people approaching us.
“Historically we would be donating to homeless people but we are now seeing more Scarborians who are finding things difficult and need held feeding their families.
“We are seeing families struggling to cope with benefit cuts or changes to circumstances that are leaving a vacuum in their subsistence.”
Mr Watterson said the centre gives away about 40 packs of food a week.
Packs are put together for families and individuals, with roughly the same amount of each being donated every week.
Mr Watterson said: “In most cases these are people we have never seen or dealt with before and they have just found themselves in this desperate situation.
“But we can only donate what people donate to us. We are usually well stocked but there have been weeks where we have run out. There is more often that uncomfortable moment where our shelves are empty.”
The centre’s money advice service has also seen take up treble in recent months.
Rainbow Money was set up in 2009 to offer free, independent financial advice. In the past the service would deal with about ten cases a quarter, but is now taking on ten cases a month.
Mr Watterson said: “It is hard for families at the moment and there is a need for people to make their money go further.
“We are appealing to anyone who does feel they can spread their income that bit further to buy just a few extra cans next time they are at the supermarket.
“Just a few tins will go a long way for someone.”
Food donations can be placed in a dedicated wheelie bin at Sainsbury’s supermarket off Falsgrave Road, or be dropped off at the Rainbow Centre between 8am and 3pm Monday to Friday.