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Scottish food banks face surge in demand amidst dwindling donations

Food banks in Scotland are reporting a significant rise in users, alongside a concerning decrease in donations.

Fiona Dalgleish, manager at the Peeblesshire Foodbank, expressed grave concerns to BBC Scotland News about the approaching winter. She remarked on the escalating difficulties faced by people, highlighting their exhaustion, demoralization, and struggles with hunger and cold.

The Trussell Trust, a UK-wide food bank network, has distributed a staggering 128,490 food parcels in Scotland this year alone. Adam Wines, a manager within the Inverclyde branch of the Trussell Trust network, observed a 36% increase in food bank usage concurrent with a 30% reduction in donations, primarily comprising contributions from local supermarkets and churches.

In response to the dwindling supplies, the Inverclyde food bank has resorted to purchasing groceries to maintain community support. FareShare, a group that redistributes excess supermarket food to various community entities in Scotland, has also seen an uptick in food distribution, anticipating further increases during winter.

The People's Pantry in Glasgow's Govanhill, a part of the FareShare Network, offers a unique approach. Rather than distributing free food, it provides highly subsidised shopping options. The pantry, managed by Govanhill Baths under the leadership of Ms. Uygun, focuses on offering culturally appropriate and nutritious food, catering to the diverse ethnic groups in the area, including a significant Muslim population. This includes sourcing specific vegetables and particular herbs and grains, often not found in supermarkets.

The pantry's operation is sustained by a nominal £4 fee from its members, which goes towards purchasing fresh and culturally specific foods from markets and wholesalers. Ms. Uygun noted the considerable drop in donations and the reduced variety of donated food.

Despite these challenges, the pantry maintains around 550 active members, with 300-400 individuals utilising the service weekly, and an extensive waiting list signifying the growing demand for affordable food.

In addition to its regular services, the People's Pantry has reintroduced "hot soup Fridays" and installed a microwave to provide hot meals, addressing the increasing number of people who cannot afford to heat food purchased from the pantry.

This initiative reflects the dire situation many are facing, as they struggle not only with food scarcity but also with the means to cook and warm what they can acquire.


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