The hunger crisis in Stoke-on-Trent

Churches in Stoke-on-Trent are opening a food bank after discovering that the city has the third highest child poverty rate in the West Midlands.

Ron Willoughby, pastor of Wesley Hall Methodist Church, who are helping to run the food bank said

Living below the poverty line isn’t about not having the latest gadgets or Nintendo DS. It’s about going to bed cold and hungry and waking up cold and hungry. And we want to do something to stop children having to live like that in Stoke-on-Trent.

Poverty is defined by the government as living on an income of less than £248 a week. However, it is affected by a number of social factors including the number of people living in a household.

This means that a couple with two children would be considered to be living in poverty if they had an income of below £346 a week but for a single parent family with two children the line is lower at £256.

The food bank launches on May 3, 2012 with five distribution centres across the city. The system will work on a voucher basis that will be given out by frontline care professionals to people they recognise as being in need.

The vouchers will give details of the distribution centres and when taken in can be swapped for three days worth of food.

The distribution centres are located at

  • Wesley Hall Methodist Church
  • Swan Bank Methodist Church
  • Hanley Baptist Church
  • The Bethel Church in Longton
  • St Alban’s Church in Blurton

Project manager Sue Simcoe said

We wanted to do something to really help people. It’s good to give hungry people a meal. But to provide them with food to last them three days is even better.

With the food they get, they also receive a menu that has been created by nutritionists so they can make the best use of the food.

The food bank will be stocked by donations from local churches, organisations and individuals. The team are planning to visit supermarkets in the city on a regular basis to ask shoppers if they would add an item from a provided shopping list to their weekly shop for the food bank.

The shopping list includes foods such as tinned items, pasta sauces, long life fruit juice, tea bags and instant coffee.

Ruth Rosenau, councillor for Meir North where 32 per cent of children are living in poverty said

Across the city it is a reflection of the economic climate we are in and it is incredible sad. The food bank is something that is a necessity across the city.

It’s something that has worked well in other areas and it’s great to see churches working together.

For more information on the food bank and to find out how you can get involved visit their website: http://stokeontrent.foodbank.org.uk

Have Your Say