Waltham Forest food bank users soar, more than double

(Stock image: Unsplash/Maria Lin Kim)

Several local food banks, including the Rukhsana Khan Foundation and Eat Or Heat, share worrying stats with the Echo, reports Elizabeth Atkin…

The Rukhsana Khan Foundation has revealed that it is now supporting over 12,000 people in the borough with its food bank services, more than double the 5,100 it supported pre-pandemic.

Over 6,500 people are also being supported by its ready-made meal service, which began during the pandemic and now produces over 1,000 meals for families per week.

Rukhsana Khan Foundation – which was Walthamstow’s first food bank, opened in 2013 – is not alone in seeing a drastic increase in locals relying on its support.

Eat Or Heat, a food bank which gives to individuals and families – also providing fresh fruit and veg to Highams Park Food Aid, The Hornbeam Centre and Pl84U Al-Suffa – reported a similar rise in users.

“We have over double the amount of clients attending our three food banks in Waltham Forest,” Gary C. Nash, Chair of Eat Or Heat, told the Echo.

Stats published on their website show a dramatic rise in referrals from just over 1,000 people between March and August 2019, to almost 2,500 for the same period in 2020.

Numbers continue to rise quickly. Highams Park Food Aid revealed it is currently supporting 218 people as of January 2021, though was providing food hampers to 158 people in December 2020.

They’ve grown their operation to support additional families via numerous other food banks, including Peabody, Friday Hill and at Leyton Sixth Form College.

“We only started in April 2020 thinking it would be a temporary service for a few weeks to support the local community,” volunteer Tracey told us. “We started with four volunteers and supporting five families, to now 212 families overall.”