Mirfield’s Humanity First Food Bank is one of the few food banks with a high street presence.
The food bank was set up during the first Covid-19 lockdown and opened in a town centre shop in the former Vale cinema complex in June.
Backed by Humanity First, a global charity which works in 58 countries, the food bank has quickly grown and now supplies 70-80 food parcels a week.
Due to its prominence it quickly attracted attention and support.
Mirfield textile firm John Cotton recently donated £1,000 and neighbouring Trinity Methodist Church gave £500 from its Harvest Festival.
Mirfield College, the sixth form attached to Mirfield Free Grammar, has also taken food bins to collect donations from staff and students.
Food bank spokesman Arif Ahmad previously worked with Batley Food Bank but admitted it had been a “steep learning curve” for organisers.
The food bank now had a core of up to 15 volunteers and Morrisons in Heckmondwike, Asda and Sainsbury’s in Dewsbury and Tesco in Batley all donate food and supplies.
People were referred by local authorities, voluntary groups, GPs or other professionals and Arif said: “Demand is rising so we are building up our stocks. It is very likely there will be more job losses with the economic climate still deteriorating.”
Sadly, he said, food banks were common. “Most towns now have a food bank, even rich cities down South have a food bank.”
Arif said there was no typical food bank client. “The image is of the single mother struggling to feed her children but it’s often someone who is between jobs, whose benefits have taken time to come through. They may only need assistance for a few weeks until they get paid but we are there to help bridge that gap.
“There is a new batch of people who have never needed a food bank before but we have seen incomes cut during furlough and savings only last so long. There is a stigma for people approaching a food bank, particularly the elderly, but there shouldn’t be. We don’t judge and we are here to do things discreetly.”
Arif said Humanity First is focused on the food bank for now but will expand into other work and good causes “when things return to normal.”