The demand for Lynn Food Bank continues to soar – with nearly 4,000 people living in crisis relying on it last year.
The number of vulnerable people fed by the organisation has risen from 3,063 in 2013 to 3,905 in 2014 – a leap of 27.5 per cent.
And two thirds of those who have been forced to turn to the charity for help are struggling to cope due to having their benefits stopped through sanctions or being changed.
Others are having difficulty managing their household budgets, particularly those on zero hours contracts.
Organisers at the charity, based at St Ann’s Fort in Lynn and run by the Trussell Trust, say the rise in the number of people being fed is also due to there being more Food Bank voucher distributors, and also because of an increased awareness of the service.
The latest figures come three-and-a-half years after volunteers set the centre up to distribute emergency food parcels to desperate families and individuals, and it now incorporates facilities in Hunstanton and Downham too.
Several tonnes of food have been handed out during that time thanks to generous donations from individuals, churches, schools and businesses which have helped the charity to keep pace with growing demand for its support.
Food for three days is provided on presentation of a voucher which states the number of people in need and the reason for giving it.
Recipients are allowed three food parcels each six months except in emergencies when they can receive more.
The main voucher distributors are the Job Centre Plus in Lynn, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Purfleet Trust, the Probation Service and Genesis Housing.
Last year 2,843 adults were fed, compared to 2,156 in 2013, and 1,062 children, up from 907.
A total of 2,139 vouchers were handed out and research by anti-poverty campaigner and church member Christopher Lindley showed 62.5 per cent were given them due to their benefits being sanctioned or changed.
Other reasons given by those claiming the vouchers were low income, debt and unemployment.
He said: “It is significant that the Job Centre Plus gave out 643 of the total of 2,139 vouchers in 2014 (30 per cent) and the reasons were almost entirely benefit sanctions or changes.”
Of the vouchers, 81 (3.8 per cent) were given to homeless people whilst 703 (32.9 per cent) were given to people from the four wards in Lynn – St Margaret’s with St Nicholas, North Lynn, Gaywood Chase and Fairstead.