1,500 - the amount of meals Horncastle Community Food Larder has provided this year

Foodbank stock image.
Foodbank stock image.

Horncastle’s Community Food Larder has provided 1,500 meals this year - double the number for the corresponding period two years ago.

The larder relies totally on volunteers and donations from local businesses, organisations and individuals.

Figures obtained by the News show that at end of last month the larder had handed out 100 emergency food parcels in 2018. Each parcel is designed to provide an individual with three-meals-a-day, over a five-day period.

While the figures show what a vital role the larder plays in helping vulnerable members of society, they highlight concerns that an increasing number of individuals and families are falling below the poverty line.

There are concerns that the Government’s recently introduced Universal Credit system is one of the major factors in the increase.

The system replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment.

Horncastle is one of the first towns in East Lindsey to have the system rolled out.

Unconfirmed sources indicate many people - including families - have experienced delays in payments.

A volunteer at the community larder admitted there were concerns about the increasing number of people coming forward to ask for help.

The volunteer stressed people had to be referred by other agencies and could not ‘just walk in off the street.’

He stressed the larder was indebted to the magnificent community support it received.

The volunteer added: “We could not continue to operate without the support of the many individuals, groups, organisations and businesses in Horncastle and the surrounding area.

“The level of support is amazing and highlights the fantastic spirit in the community.”

The volunteer confirmed the increase on 2016 was a concern but insisted the larder was only focussed on helping people.

The News has agreed not to identify anyone helped by the larder.

However, we can highlight on recent case.

A young woman was referred to the larder after moving into accommodation in Horncastle.

She collected a parcel but returned because she had nothing to open any of the tins.

Volunteers discovered she had no furniture, no fridge and no cooker.

Volunteers borrowed a microwave from the town’s parish church and bought the woman a two-ring cooker.

They also organised a delivery of furniture from a charity.

• Each parcel includes tinned items and fresh milk and bread.

There are regular requests for items such as washing up liquid, washing powder and sanitary products.

• John Fieldhouse comments on the story:

Let’s get one thing straight from the start.

The volunteers who manage Horncastle’s Community Food Larder are doing an absolutely fantastic job.

So, for that matter, are the businesses, organisations and individuals who regularly donate items.

Without their help and support, even more people would be on our streets.

However, is it not a sad indictment of this country that so many individuals and families have to turn to a food larder for help?

Whether it is the new Universal Credit system that is behind a staggering increase in people needing the larder matters not one jot.

The fact this is happening in a market town like Horncastle makes it seem even more of a scandal.

If the figures related to Grimsby, Skegness or even Lincoln perhaps they would be understandable - if still worrying.

But Horncastle?

A quiet, quaint town - and an area - which is one of the ‘bread baskets’ of England in terms of food production.

Whatever the reason for the demand on the food larder, too many people are falling into poverty.

Yes, there will always be people who work the system but here we are talking about genuinely vulnerable members of society.

Those who depend on the larder should not be criticised. It takes great courage to ask for help.

All this at a time when our Government pays out £14 billion a year in overseas aid.

Makes you think... doesn’t it?