A FOODBANK was facing unprecedented demand this time last year, and had run out of some items.

Use of the Worcester Foodbank in Lowesmoor Wharf had grown 45 per cent between 2015 and 2017, said manager Grahame Lucas.

The 62-year-old blamed the increase on welfare sanctions and the roll-out of a new benefit system.

“In the last two weeks we ran out of jam, crackers, peanut butter, tinned tomatoes and milk,” he said.

“We are facing increasing use by families, particularly with the number of children being fed.

“It’s particularly poignant that some kids are going without milk for breakfast because we have run out of it at the foodbank.

“A family food parcel will focus more on breakfast. We can’t replace UHT milk. It’s important for growth in children.”

The foodbank had been giving out more than 5,000 individual parcels per year, compared with 3,500 two years previously. A food parcel provides 10 nutritionally balanced meals for three days.

He said: “We are finding there’s a steady increase in people coming through suffering problems with the benefit system, particularly with universal credit being rolled out.

“We also have people on low incomes who have found employment but it’s not sufficient to keep their head above water.”

Mr Lucas said people were using the foodbank while waiting for their universal credit applications to be processed, or after having their benefits sanctioned.

“Lots of people coming to us are being sanctioned.

“They often have to wait for six weeks to get to the other side of the sanction,” he said.

“When you have got a family involved, what do you do in that period? Lots of our people are so genuinely in crisis they have no money to do anything.”