ORGANISATIONS have banded together to stop city residents going hungry in the new year.
Sunderland’s faith communities, Sunderland Partnership and Sunderland City Council launched the One for the Basket project to supply food to families unable to feed themselves.
Homeless charity Streetcare is also providing food parcels to those in need.
The work will see people buy extra food in their weekly shop and then drop it at donation points, with the items then collected and distributed by the faith communities and volunteer groups.
Councillor Iain Kay, mayor of Sunderland said: “Food poverty is now a reality here in Sunderland and the wider community.
“Tackling the problem is an important thing to do.”
Canon Sheila Bamber, Provost of Sunderland, said: “In these times of rapid change this is a simple way for people to make a real difference and help those who need it most in their own communities.
“There is a lot going on in the city and together we can meet more of the need.
“Food poverty is an emerging problem in the city and this scheme is a way for people to help their neighbours.”
Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury elect, backed One for the Basket.
He said: “When we first started seeing food distribution happening across the country it really concerned me because I’ve grown up in a country where it doesn’t happen, it happens in other places, and it worries me.”
Streetcare, run from St Gabriel’s Church in Kayll Road, says the work will prevent tens of people from committing crimes to feed themselves.
They work alongside Homeless Household Project Ashkirk House to provide to homeless families.
Project team leader at Ashkirk, Gemma Alderson, said: “If we have a family come in who are waiting for their benefits, we tell Streetcare the family make up, and they put a food parcel together with tins and some fresh food in.”
Margaret, 47, has been visiting the charity, for about four months.
She said: “If Streetcare wasn’t here I would thieve, or rob, or beg on the streets. If you are hungry you have to do something. You have to be in the situation to know that the problem is so bad in Sunderland, because it is hidden.”
Councillor Graeme Miller, cabinet member for health, housing and adult services, said: “Without our charitable partners there would be huge gaps in our capabilities.”