FOOD banks in Torbay today sent out an urgent plea for help as unprecedented numbers of people struggling to make ends meet turned to them for aid.
A food bank charity is appealing for help to stock up their shelves after a surge in calls for emergency food parcels.
Anode, the Paignton-based social action charity said supplies are running low after unprecedented demand.
The charity received 10 calls for emergency parcels on Friday night alone and calls for aid have risen from 75 to more than 2,000 in the past 12 months.
Nigel Williams, director said: "We are now delivering to addresses that we would not have expected 18 months ago.
"We are talking about families who are in work but may have had to take pay cuts or had their hours cut because of the economic climate.
"These are families who have found that there is just too much month left at the end of the money."
Mr Williams said that he knows of one family who walked from Watcombe to Paignton to ask for help and one desperate mum who had considered shoplifting to feed children that had not eaten for two days.
Mr Williams said: "It is hard to believe that this is still happening in this part of the world in this day and age."
Now the team are hoping residents will come forward with donations of non-perishable goods to make up parcels designed to create meals for three days. They are delivered discreetly in an unmarked van to families who may otherwise be embarrassed to ask for help.
The charity is also trying to set up drop-off points across Torbay where people can donate food.
Anode is the beneficiary of Roger Stringer, Torbay Council's chairman's charity this year.
He said: "The food bank is sending out more food than they are getting in at the moment.
"I am pleased to help them and I know they will welcome any extra support people can give them"
The team like to put together ingredients for complete meals, including pasta, rice, jarred sauces, tinned fish, meat and vegetable along with store cupboard basics like tea, coffee and cereal.
To help, contact Mr Williams on 01803 556571.
The story is the same in Brixham where Sarah Ready founded the Torbay Food Bank in Brixham Town Hall at Easter.
She said that already the number of people coming through the door for emergency food parcels had risen dramatically.
She said: "There is more demand for what comes in at the moment. With our seasonal economy based on tourism and reliance on care work, more people are struggling to put bread on the table.
"Housing benefits have been changed too which impact single people. Not only people on benefits are coming to see us but people who work and families. We are talking about people who are one bill away from crisis.
"Older people are feeling the pinch too. Food prices have gone up 4.6 per cent last year and gas and electricity have gone up 19 per cent but pensions have not followed. It's either eat or heat their home."
The latest Experian report revealed one area in Brixham had been added to the index of deprivation.
She added: "It is a very sad situation. Since we started at Easter we have seen numbers rise. Now we've teamed up with the Devon and Cornwall Food Association to divert food from supermarkets which would otherwise have ended in landfill being donated to us and other charities."
Sarah said number had gone up from a few families a week when the bank started to 20 to 25 families a week less than a month later.
Now numbers have risen dramatically to 44 families a week.
Mrs Ready can be contacted on 07803403567.
A spokeswoman working for Teignbridge Homeless Action Today which offers a food bank facilities to hard up families in the district said: "I have noticed an increase in the number of people needing food."
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