Crisis deepens as food is provided for more than 350 people for eighth consecutive month

Emergency food was delivered in February to 399 clients and family members living across Purley, Coulsdon, South Croydon and Waddon – up from 364 in January and from 360 a year ago.

Each adult and child receives food for three meals a day for three days, so in February we provided the equivalent of 3,591 meals, compared with 3,276 in January.

This is now the eighth consecutive month that we have exceeded 3,000 meals for more than 350 people.

February’s increase comes despite Purley Jobcentre stopping referring clients to us in mid-February, as part of an instruction to Jobcentres across the UK by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Over the years Purley Jobcentre has referred on average about 33 per cent of the Food Hub’s clients, but now instead staff will issue someone in food crisis with a “signposting slip” directing them to another organisation to make a referral.

IFAN, the Independent Food Aid Network (to which the Food Hub is affiliated), said it was concerned the DWP’s move would cause delays and make it harder for benefit claimants to get a food parcel.

They have called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to extend the Household Support Fund in the Budget on 6th March. The HSF, administered by local authorities, awards one-off grants to people in hardship to buy food, gas, electricity, etc, but it is due to end on 31st March.

In Croydon, the money has already run out. A notice on the Council’s website reads: “Due to the high volume of applications we are currently unable to accept any new applications.”

IFAN, campaigning with other charities, says: “No family should have to choose between heating their home or feeding their children.

“When someone is facing hardship they need to be able to turn to their local authority for help, and the HSF has enabled many to do so to afford the essentials.”