A foodbank has made a desperate appeal for donations to help people who are having to choose between eating and putting the heating on.
Cupboards have been running bare at St Catherine’s Foodbank, which provides weekly food parcels and hot meals for people struggling to make ends meet.
The foodbank in Belle Vue is seeing a huge rise in demand after the weather turned colder as householders see their home energy costs rise.
Cuts to welfare benefits and unemployed claimants having their payments stopped has also seen more people go hungry.
Centre manager Lisa Grant said: “We have got extremely busy. I would say that the number of people coming in for food parcels and those coming for a free hot lunch has doubled.
“We are working with families and people are caring for disabled family members.
“Benefit sanctions and changes to the benefits system are definitely affecting people’s income.”
A poverty crisis has seen a huge rise in the use of foodbanks around the country.
In the Wakefield district 20 per cent of children are living in poverty, latest figures show.
Miss Grant said: “It’s because of a shortage of money, not because there are more foodbanks around.
“It’s because the need is getting greater and greater for people.”
Items badly needed at St Catherine’s include tinned fruit and vegetables, UHT milk, instant noodles and soup. Miss Grant said: “We need things that you can cook if you only have a kettle.
“A lot of our clients are trying to save on their electricity. They are having to make the decision about whether they can pay for electricity and having to use cash to put the heating on.”
Tomorrow a Christmas dinner will be held at the foodbank at St Catherine’s Church Centre, on Doncaster Road, for people who have been using the facility.
There will be food, Christmas carols and an appearance from Father Christmas from noon.
To find out how to help St Catherine’s Foodbank and check opening hours call 01924 211130 or log on to www.facebook.com/stcaths