Kingston foodbank has collected over four tonnes of food to help thousands of families living below the poverty line in the borough.
Churches, charities and schools have united to help those affected by ‘hidden hunger’ to put food on the table.
Government statistics show there are over 5,000 children living in poverty in Kingston and over 3,500 households earning less than £16,000 per year.
After speaking to front line agencies about the problem, organiser Paul Pickhaver, realised there was no crisis intervention service to help feed families in need.
He said: “It can happen to anybody, even it they are working, from an unexpected bill or benefit change, if they don’t have a good network of friends or family”
“The numbers show three or four children in every Kingston classroom are living below the poverty line.”
“The response to the initiative has been excellent. It’s so simple, local people helping local people.”
Levels of unsecured debt in Kingston stand at £24,000 per person, much higher than the national average of £16,000.
Food is donated by the public and collected by volunteers who then organise and distribute to those in need.
Front line agencies and social workers issue vouchers that are exchanged at the United Reform Church every Friday from 11am to 2pm.
The drive has already fed over forty people since launching on the 2nd of December.
Chris Scannerr, 22, a volunteer at the food bank on Friday said: “It’s all about working together as a unit. My mum struggled to put food on the table sometimes, so I’m happy to give back.”
Job Centre Plus, YMCA London South West, Kingston Citizens’ Advice Bureau Kingston University and Kingston Welcare and 40 other agencies have signed up.
Waitrose Surbiton has promoted the campaign in store and Big Yellow Self Storage has kept the non-perishable items free of charge.
Plans are in place to expand distribution points in New Malden, Chessington and Tolworth next year.
Foodbanks are supported by the Trussel Trust and are currently opening at a rate of one per week nationally.