Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion joined charity campaigners supporting the National Food Collections campaign by collecting donations from shoppers at the Tesco Metro store in the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton.

WS Phil Bennion PRichards TLeary food coll-IMG 6597Phil joined store manager Terry Leary and local charity volunteer Polly Richards handing out shopping lists to customers on Friday afternoon, July 5th.

The forms ask customers to buy an item that they can donate to the food bank on their way out at a donation point at the front of store. Tesco have agreed to top up food bank donations made today and tomorrow at each participating store by 30%.

In 2012-13 foodbanks fed 346,992 people in the UK. Of those helped, 126,889 were children. Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, debt and unemployment are causing more and more people to come to foodbanks for help.

The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new foodbanks nationwide. With over 325 foodbanks currently launched, the Trust's goal is for every town to have one.

Phil Bennion MEP said: "I strongly support the work of the Trussell Trust and other charities backing this event to help people in difficulty in the most direct way possible - making sure they have food on the table.

"I also am impressed by the Trussell Trust's education campaigns such as 'Eat Well, Spend Less' to help people make the most of a very tight budget.

"It is a sad reflection of the crisis affecting most European countries that demand for food banks has risen.

"They should not be necessary, but unrepayable debts, redundancy as well as sudden illness, family breakdown or domestic violence can all put people in a crisis situation without money, even if only for a short time."

Volunteer charity worker Polly Richards, a student from Wombourne, said she decided to get involved after reading about the Food Collections campaign in the Star.

"I am on a break from uni and thought this is a really worthwhile cause to help people in need, so I put my name forward. We have had a great response today."

By the end of the afternoon several full trolleyloads of food had been donated.

Store manager Terry Leary said: "It is great to have Phil Bennion MEP join us to support for this event. Wolverhampton shoppers have been very generous, we are likely to raise far more than we did last year, the first time we helped with the Food Collection campaign."

ENDS

Caption: Polly Richards, Phil Bennion MEP and store manager Terry Leary with some of the non-perishable foods donated by shoppers at the Tesco store in the Mander centre today.

Note: Food banks first started to operate in the early part of the last decade under Labour. In 2011, the Coalition government overturned a Labour decision so that Job Centre advisors are now allowed to refer claimants who need additional help to food banks (which explains part of the recent increase in their use).

The Director of the Trussell Trust said: "Their decision means people on the breadline will now get the help they need more easily and that's of course what matters to us in the food bank network."