Enfield foodbank warns ‘it’s only getting worse’

Food inflation of nearly 20% combined with housing crisis puts Enfield foodbanks under massive pressure, reports James Cracknell

Foodbank (credit Nico Smit via Unsplash)
credit Nico Smit via Unsplash

Foodbanks in Enfield are struggling to cope with demand amid the highest rise in food prices for 45 years – with some reporting a four-fold increase in as many months.

Inflation remains in double digits thanks to the rising cost of buying food and drink – with these prices rising nearly 20% in a single year – while an escalating homelessness crisis in Enfield has exacerbated the issue locally.

More and more people in employment are now showing up at the borough’s foodbanks and other food services, local providers have said. With 200 homeless families in Enfield also holed up in hotels, many also do not have cooking facilities and are therefore in need of hot meals instead of tins and packets of uncooked food.

Dionne John is the co-ordinator of Enfield Food Alliance, a network of 30 local organisations providing food support locally. She told the Dispatch: “People are reluctant to take certain types of food because they are thinking about how they will heat it up or cook it – increased numbers are coming from hotels where they have no access to cooking facilities.

“The voluntary sector is now being asked to provide hot meals rather than just the usual groceries. We need to have a clear understanding as a borough of how we are going to deal with it.”

Dionne added that she wants more local organisations providing food to struggling families to be involved in coming up with solutions. Being able to use empty premises to provide “pop-up food provision” could be one answer, she says.

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Cooking Champions is a social enterprise which provides food parcel deliveries and free weekly hot lunches from their kitchen in Ponders End. Founder Clare Donovan said their rate of referrals had risen by 300% between November 2022 and March this year.

“More people that are working are struggling,” she told the Dispatch. “There is this stigma that people should just work more hours or get better jobs [instead of using foodbanks] but that is not the reality for people.

“They have feelings of guilt and shame – they feel they have failed. We are getting more cases of people suffering mental health issues such as depression and addiction.

“We started Cooking Champions to help people during the Covid-19 lockdown but there is no sign of this situation improving, it is only getting worse.”

Clare added that they had been forced to change their operation at Cooking Champions to now provide food for people on a limited four-week rotation, to manage the influx of referrals and continue to ensure everyone at least gets some form of help.

Last week, The Felix Project announced it had expanded its Enfield depot to help meet rising demand from the food charities it supplies with unsold food from supermarkets. It comes after City Hall politicians warned that foodbanks across London were “struggling to cope” with the demand from people in poverty.

Cooking Champions relies on donations and is currently appealing for people who can to support them with a monthly £5 donation – which covers the cost of providing an individual with weekly food parcels for four weeks. To donate:

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