More help needed for hungry families
WITH tears pouring down her face, a desperate mother begged a charity for help to feed her five hungry children.
And the struggle to feed whole families is not just affecting her.
The number of families who have no means of putting food on the table are increasing.
Jo Mason, of County Community Projects's (CCP) 1st Stop initiative, which provides food parcels to people across the Cheltenham area, said the woman, who came to them this week, had no way of feeding her family.
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"She was in tears when she explained her circumstances to us," she said. "She has no source of income or any money, and we had to help her out."
The Cheltenham-based charity had given out 406 parcels by this time last year, and has already handed out close to 450 parcels this year.
Each food parcel lasts for up to three days, although families with children might get up to a week's worth. They are given out to people who are struggling to make ends meet. These include homeless people, vulnerable adults, whole families and those with just themselves to feel.
The charity is worried about the anticipated rise over winter. They give out an average of 90 parcels in January and February, although they expect this to increase.
Heather Sheridan, community fundraising co-ordinator, said demand for food would increase substantially in the next few months. She said: "People living in poverty very often have to choose between food and warmth. They are often afraid to turn the heating up because they are afraid of receiving a big heating bill that they won't be able to pay."
The charity received food from more than 40 churches, schools, business and community groups during their harvest festival appeal this year, including food from individuals around the county.
Most parcels include a share of cereal or porridge oats, soup, beans, pasta and a meat meal.
Ms Mason said: "The number of people coming through our doors has been increasing each year, and we gave out about 500 food parcels last year. I'm expecting that to rise by more than 100 parcels next year because of the expected changes to the benefits scheme which might leave more people homeless."