Shocking figures that show the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Petersfield families have been laid bare by a town charity.
Demand at Petersfield food bank is soaring as the number of packs handed out by volunteers has increased by more than 300 per cent in three years.
Figures produced at the Annual Town Meeting show 113 food packs were handed out during the first month of 2023 – compared to 28 in January 2020.
That’s a rise of 303 per cent while demand has also increased by 71 per cent in just 12 months as 66 packs went out in January 2022.
The referrals breakdown provides even bleaker reading as it shows 164 adults and 86 children got help from the food bank in January this year.
That compares to just 46 and 16 in January 2020 – a rise of 256 per cent for adults and 437 for children over a 36-month period.
Petersfield is a relatively wealthy town but the figures show “there’s a real need” for the food bank, according to trustee David Barton.
“When the pandemic started the figures went off the chart and use trebled,” said Mr Barton, adding: “We issued 1,277 packs, helping 1,939 adults and 1,060 children.”
Volunteers say it’s hard to believe that donations to the food bank barely filled a cupboard in the Salvation Army hall when it was founded by Petersfield Area Churches Together in October 2010.
These days donations often take up two long tables in the Methodist Church while they’re helped by a small army of up to 60 volunteers.
But there’s also some “very generous” people in Petersfield and the support the charity receives from banks, churches, firms and organisations like the Lions and Round Table can be “very overwhelming”, the meeting heard.
The group always welcomes donations of tinned and packet food and has various collection points around Petersfield.
There’s more information at www.pactfoodbank.org.uk while the good cause will receive a further boost next Friday (March 31) from the mayor’s charity quiz night. Tickets for the Festival Hall event are £15 with proceeds also going to The Kings Arms.