One Food Bank Opening In UK Every Four Days

Food banks were almost unheard of just a few years ago - now they are being opened in the UK at the rate of one every four days.

For Kenny and Leanne Jones, spiralling debts caused by rising utility bills and high rents led them to the St Andrew's Community Centre in north Liverpool.

The goods they will take home from the food bank there to their four children will mean, for a few days at least, there will be meals on the table.

"You develop a survival instinct when you're short of money," said Leanne.

"It's a really dark place you go into when you feel no one is there to help you, but just coming here today is like a weight off my shoulders. It gives me some breathing space."

Kenny, unable to work because of spinal injuries yet still acting as a carer for his wife, says sometimes the choices they have are brutally simple.

"You just put the children first, every time," he said. "If there's only enough food for the children, I'll always say let them have it, and I'll go without."

Food poverty is often thought of as a problem for the developing world, not the developed. But most of the volunteers at the food bank have stories about people in desperate need.

Food bank co-ordinator Andrea McGanity said one man walked for five miles in the pouring rain to collect his food.

"He'd been working for 35 years before being made unemployed and getting into debt," she explained. "It was heartbreaking."

Julie-Anne Wanless from the St Andrew's Community Centre said they had toyed with the idea of setting up a food bank some years ago, but it was only in recent months they felt it was unavoidable.

In 2010 there were 79 food banks in the UK. Now there are over 200 - 199 of them run with the help of the Trussell Trust .

The charity helped feed 60,000 people last year and aims to increase that figure to 100,000 in 2012.

Anastasia de Waal, a social policy advisor for think tank Civitas, said: "The food banks are an indicator of the pressures faced by people in a time of rising unemployment and changing benefits."

But she added: "Although they are useful, they are unsustainable."

Despite that sombre judgement, the Trussell Trust hopes it will soon have a food bank in every town to help others like Kenny and Leanne.