CHARITY bosses have hailed the expansion of a Bolton food bank as “the biggest response to a community in need in modern times”.
The Storehouse Food Bank is operated by voluntary organisation Urban Outreach and distributes food to people who have fallen on hard times.
The scheme has been running for eight years and demand has rocketed in the last 12 months as more hard-pressed residents turn to it for help.
But now the service is being taken on the road after Bolton at Home donated a new Vauxhall Vivaro van that will allow more food to be collected and delivered directly to people in need.
Bolton firm Shakespeare Foundry has also provided funding for fuel and insurance. Bosses say the food bank has been inundated with support from residents, charities and organisations, including Sharples School in Astley Bridge where youngsters ran a competition between year groups to see who could collect the most food.
Urban Outreach chief executive Dave Bagley said: “We’ve been distributing more than 2,500 food parcels each year, but we are facing an increase in demand.
“Having our own van will allow us to deliver food from the warehouse to areas with distribution and collection points.”
The organisation has also set up 60 food “bins” across the borough where people can donate shopping. He said: “There are 120 churches, community groups, temples, mosques and businesses involved with 30,000 school children donating food.
“This is the largest community response to a need in the modern history of Bolton — this is Bolton at its best.”
The Bishop of Bolton, Chris Edmondson, was there for the launch.
He said: “It’s sad that we’re having to do this but partnership working is something Bolton does very well.”
Noel Spencer, life president of Bolton at Home and Deputy Mayor of Bolton, has become an ambassador for the project.
He said: “Many people are finding it tough to make ends meet and the food bank service prevents many people from going hungry.”
Sharples headteacher Rachel Quesnel said she was proud of her school’s support for the cause.