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Food banks in Holbeach, Spalding and Long Sutton look to provide support and meals during school holidays

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Food banks are looking to provide vital support during the school holidays - but need help to keep up with ‘unsustainable’ price hikes.

Volunteers in Holbeach will be subsidising for the lack of free school meals during July and August, while larders in Spalding and Long Sutton are experiencing increased numbers of users.

The Holbeach Community Larder is providing lunch packs for youngsters whose families struggle to pay for food.

Jane Francis (second left) and her catering team at Holbeach Community Larder and Cafe
Jane Francis (second left) and her catering team at Holbeach Community Larder and Cafe

The packs can be picked up weekly and will contain enough for a five day week. Inside will be the likes of bread and fillings for sandwiches, fruit, crisps and cereal bars.

Jane Francis, who chairs the trustee group which runs the larder, said: “We’re trying to keep it fairly healthy - not too unhealthy.

“We’re inspired this year particularly by the cost of living crisis and the increase in clients that we’re seeing - particularly amongst families who are struggling to pay

their bills.”

Irene Davies at the Agape Care food bank in Spalding
Irene Davies at the Agape Care food bank in Spalding

The larder’s users began to increase during the pandemic, but in the last year numbers have gone up by around 50%.

Volunteers are always looking for donations from residents and any businesses that have excess food.

Ms Francis added: “I can’t see any sign of it slowing down. In fact, we now open two days a week - we open Wednesdays and Fridays.

“We’re fairly busy on both days. With winter coming and bills going up, we can’t imagine that it’s going to get any better. It’s probably going to get worse.”

Spalding’s Agape Care food bank, based at The Lighthouse on Haverfield Road, does not normally prepare special plans for school holidays because demand has reportedly never been high enough.

However, the number of people using its resources has increased ‘dramatically’ this year - particularly at a larder set up during the pandemic.

That is according to co-ordinator Irene Davies, who said: “What we are getting now, certainly in the last year, is far more families coming in. There are far more families than we had before.

“There are bigger families as well - three up to eight children. That of course puts a lot more strain on our finances because obviously a lot more food is going out.”

Between £700-£1,000 worth of food is leaving the Spalding food bank each week - and the team is therefore looking for funding to keep up with demand.

Ms Davies added: “We’re now actually having to sustain the larder out of our own funds rather than what’s coming in.

“That is an issue we’re constantly looking at, because it’s increased dramatically.

“We’ve got 45, 55, sometimes 65 people coming and we give them a small parcel plus whatever else is going on the day. That is becoming unsustainable.”

Father Jonathan Sibley, who helps to run the Long Sutton Food Larder, said that bank is also currently very busy with children during the school holidays.

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