Hull has become England’s most deprived ‘food desert’ where families have been left on the brink of starvation and food banks are seeing record demand
Image: MEN Media)
A woman was forced to survive on a diet of just cereal and water, according to food bank managers – who say demand for their services has hit an all-time high.
Volunteers said the woman ate nothing but cornflakes for an entire week after running out of money and visiting the food bank in Hull, East Yorkshire.
Mothers escaping domestic abuse have also turned to the service for help after being left with no food and unable to buy presents for their children at Christmas.
Hull Foodbank, one of the main centres offering emergency food parcels for its residents, said 2021 is set to be the busiest year on record.
Project manager Russ Barlow told Hull Live : “We sometimes get people who haven’t eaten in two days.”
Families have been left on the brink of starvation with demand reaching unprecedented levels in the pandemic, the newspaper reports.
While donations have met demand, volunteers are seeing more people reach out than ever before.
The city was named as England’s most deprived ‘food desert’, meaning an area with limited access to affordable food, in a report published by the Northern Health Science Alliance in December.
Some 5,300 food parcels were given out by Hull Foodbank this year – 1,700 of which went to families with children.
Mr Barlow said many people were turning to them because wages were not meeting rising living costs.
It comes as the Bank of England this week announced inflation rates were predicted to rise to 6%.
“Last year was our second busiest this year will probably be our busiest,” Mr Barlow said.
“We’ve sent 300 parcels out in December so far, 98 of those went to families with kids.
“Luckily, people have been very generous and donations have more or less matched what we’ve been giving out.
“This past year is the first time we haven’t run out due to a massive amount of donations last year.”
The Child of the North report named Hull as having the country’s fifth highest rate of child poverty, based on the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index.
Mr Barlow added: “Most of the people that use our services can just about manage.
“But then if something unexpected happens like an unexpected bill, or if their kids are home for the school holidays, that can push people over the edge.
“Food banks shouldn’t be a normal part of society and shouldn’t be celebrated. None of this is normal.
“It shows something is wrong. It’s a sign something is broken in the system.”
Hull Foodbank is an emergency and referral-only service, where people are referred through agencies like Citizens Advice or domestic abuse charities.
It is one of the several in the city working with MP Emma Hardy, who has been running a campaign which ends today asking people to donate supplies over the Advent period.