Church groups in West Norfolk are helping to feed more than 7,000 people across the county every month, new research has claimed.
The figures have been compiled by Network Norfolk in a project called Norfolk Feeds 5000, reflecting the Biblical story of the feeding of the 5,000.
More than 90 initiatives across the county have been included in the study, including the King’s Lynn Foodbank, which is estimated to help around 300 people every month.
The group also runs a Fun and Food in School Holidays (FISH) club, which supports around 30 youngsters a day.
Group chairman Adam Whittle said: “We see people with some really big needs. They come to us because they need help with food but it’s much more than that.
“We’ve been amazed with the generosity of volunteers, members of the public, local schools, churches, supermarkets and business. We achieve incredible, life-changing things on the budget we have.”
A weekly soup kitchen at the Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic church helps around 30 people at a time.
Regular Messy Church events are held in villages including Upwell, Syderstone and West Winch, while quarterly community lunches take place at St Mary’s Church in Heacham.
And dozens attend monthly events hosted by The Fountain at Shouldham.
Angela Caley, who leads the Fresh Expression sessions with her husband Tom, said: “Because we do always make a point of having food, people always know that that social aspect is going to be something at least that they will like even if they are not so keen on the other activities”
“By eating together I think it provides that community that people feel that they can belong to with the events we put on.
“It is nice to give people that experience at a Christian event.”
Keith Morris, of Network Norfolk, said: “Christians do not have a monopoly on this kind of activity and there are other non-faith based groups in Norfolk doing similar things, but our research shows that the church is more than pulling its weight.
“Collectively, the Christian community has come up with dozens of innovative and inspirational projects to meet the basic needs of vulnerable and sometimes desperate people in our towns and villages, through the simple activity of sharing a free meal with them or providing food for their families.”