SOARING demand is outstripping donations to a Keighley foodbank, it has been revealed.
Shocked Keighley West councillor Jan Smithies was told of the dire situation during a visit to Keighley Salvation Army.
She has praised the work being carried out by the charity, but is concerned about the foodbank's capacity to cope with rising numbers in the future.
Coun Smithies said: "This year the foodbank has spent £21,000 in addition to all the food donations it receives to meet the ever-growing demand for its services.
"This is £5,000 more than the cash donations that came in.
"The gap has been filled by an underspend from the previous year, but demand is outstripping food and cash donations."
She says many foodbank users come forward for help due to delays in receiving benefits.
"One single parent had to change benefits due to her daughter turning five and a month on she was still without funds as the payments had not yet been processed – although her previous benefit had immediately ceased on her child’s birthday,” said Coun Smithies.
She said another concern was that the foodbank, at the High Street church, would have to shut throughout next month as many volunteers would be away.
"Around 120 Keighley families and single people are going to be missing their regular two meals a week and food parcels plus all the other emergency help the Salvation Army gives to them," said Coun Smithies.
"Agencies are being alerted but I am very concerned that some people will experience serious hardship. Schools will also be closed so families with children will not be getting their meals that way. For many families struggling on low incomes, breakfast clubs and school lunches make the difference in being able to stretch the family budget each week.”
Coun Smithies said she planned a return visit to the Salvation Army, with Keighley's Labour prospective parliamentary candidate John Grogan, to see what support could be offered.
“Although users of the foodbank come from all over Keighley and surrounding villages the highest usage is from residents in my ward," she added.
"As such I want to do what I can to help this vital – predominantly voluntary – service cope with meeting ever-increasing need in the short term whilst also highlighting the impact of benefit delays, harsh sanctions and low wages on many of the residents through my political lobbying role."