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The events of this year have highlighted and exacerbated rising levels of food poverty in the UK. Struggling families faced the difficulty of accessing meals for their children when schools were closed.

Recent research from the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership found that local food bank clients had an average weekly food budget of £8.53 per person – which simply does not stretch to cover a week’s worth of complete meals.

The evidence all points to things getting worse in the coming months. On a national scale, food bank charity The Trussell Trust predicts that at least 670,000 extra people will become destitute in the last three months of the year – meaning they are unable to meet basic food, shelter or clothing needs.

We are proud that FareShare has been part of the Marcus Rashford led taskforce on childhood hunger, alongside many of our major food partners that we have been working with for many years to redistribute their surplus food to good causes.

Footballer Marcus Rashford visits FareShare Greater Manchester for the opening of their new warehouse space.

The campaign called for expanded access for Free School Meals to cover school holidays, an increase in the value of Healthy Start vouchers and an expansion of holiday hunger schemes.

We are disappointed with the outcome of this vote, which would have been the first step on the road to providing some peace of mind to the millions of struggling UK families with children out to Easter next year.

FareShare Sussex have experienced record levels of demand over lockdown, tripling the amount of food we normally distribute.

One of the charities we began distributing to since Covid is My First Friends Nursery in Brighton.

The quantity of food we get weekly (from FareShare) means that families have access more food and better quality. It also means that those that lost their job through the pandemic doesn’t have to worry about finding where to get the money from.

We have noticed mental health improving but also in children that get the food. Children really enjoy helping putting a parcel together.

Demita from My First Friends Nursery

We are more determined than ever to continue our work ensuring food is getting to where it is most needed across Sussex and Surrey.

We simply can’t do it without your help.

If you are in a position to make a donation, please consider setting up a monthly gift. It is a simple way to ensure mouths are fed and people are supported during this extremely difficult time.

When we stumble, there will always be a community to wrap their arms around us and pick us back up. For many of us, that is FareShare or the local food bank. Food banks who are staffed with selfless volunteers, dedicating their lives to protecting those most vulnerable – those who, in many cases, have fallen into unforeseen circumstances due to illness, personal loss and unemployment.

It should be noted that a lot of these volunteers have themselves suffered unemployment as a result of the pandemic, yet they still strive to help others less fortunate. That to me is the greatest example of what we can do, and the difference we can make, when we just work together.

Marcus Rashford