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Richmond food bank hands out 18,000 meals
A FOOD bank has dished out more than 18,000 meals for needy families and individuals since opening last year.
The Influence Church, Richmond, opened the Store House last December after staff at the church realised a real need in the community due to rising food prices and diminishing benefit payments.
Pastor Ben Dowding said the scheme has been a huge success with more than 18,000 meals dished out over the year, and around 1,300 people using the service either as a one-off or on multiple occasions.
Mr Dowding said the church works closely with other agencies such as the Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau and local housing associations to identify people who need help.
He said: "We have seen the numbers of people using the Store House increase over the year - there are periods when we have more clients than others but it has been well-used.
"We now accept people from all over Richmondshire and around 70 per cent of the people that come to us are referred from another organisation.
"If people do come in to us without a referral we will also see if we can point them in the right direction to get extra help with housing or benefit problems they may have."
"Many are struggling families we help on a regular basis, but others just need a one-off food parcel to get them through the week because there has been a delay in their benefit.
"We have also helped vulnerable and elderly people living locally or in the Dales who have been forced to choose between eating and heating," he added.
Mr Dowding said he was grateful at the level of support the community has continued to show Store House.
He said: "We are still getting lots of donations, both from organisations and individuals and it is so appreciated.
"We get bi-weekly and monthly boxes from schools, other local churches, businesses and other groups, as well as some people who will give us an extra can of beans on the way back from doing their shopping - it all helps."
He added: "I think it is the role of the church to be at the centre of the community and to meet the needs of the community."
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