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Food banks: a life on handouts
19th July 2012
An hour after the Hope Centre food bank opens up for the Tuesday afternoon distribution session, a volunteer apologetically tapes an A4 sheet to the glass doors, announcing "Sorry No Food". Plastic bags full of tinned food and supermarket donations of produce approaching its sell-by date are being distributed to feed 79 people and there is very little left on the shelves in a storeroom of this church in central Coventry.
"We've been back to the warehouse, but we're still struggling," says Karen Sumner, one of the food bank volunteers. "We should be open for two hours but we usually run out of food after an hour."
Until 18 months ago there were no food banks in Coventry; now there are 11 across the city. There has been a similarly dramatic rise in the food bank phenomenon nationwide. The largest network of food banks in the UK, the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity, has doubled the number of people it feeds over the past year and reports that three new food banks are opening every week.
A large crowd in the Hope Centre are from Romania, and say they are waiting for food because collecting scrap metal and washing cars isn't enough to make ends meet. A bigger number is there because of benefit delays and cuts, or simply because they are no longer able to make their low wages stretch.
Amelia Gentleman | Read this article in full on guardian.co.uk