THE fourth foodbank is set to open in Monmouthshire this week, despite it being arguably the most affluent area of Gwent.
Monmouth and District foodbank works by exchanging food vouchers, given to clients by local agencies, for parcels containing dried and tinned foods, which are designed to last three days. It collects food donations from churches, schools and volunteers.
Tony Graham, foodbank network manager for Wales at the Trussell Trust, which provides training and advice to more than 50 foodbanks across the UK, said: “We are aware that there is a need in Monmouth because there is an evident need in similar towns in Wales such as Abergavenny and Chepstow.
“The council’s social workers in these towns have indicated that there was some need in the Monmouth area.”
From April 1, 2013, to date, the Chepstow foodbank has distributed just over nine tonnes of food to 1,152 people, of whom 374 were children.
In Abergavenny, six-and-a-half tonnes were handed out to 890 people, of whom 203 were children. Mr Graham said that while these figures are below average, the branches are very busy.
“There are still pockets of the town and surrounding area that are clearly poorer areas,” he added. “Even in the affluent areas people can find themselves in crisis through being made redundant or those living in rural communities on the minimum wage, it can be a combination of factors.”
Mr Graham was also heavily involved with the establishing of a Newport foodbank in April last year, which has received more than 11 tonnes of food and has fed 786 people during that time.
He added: “We are aware that this is a sensitive issue, politically, but we are very keen to remain apolitical and to avoid our clients becoming stigmatised. Lots of people who are coming to the foodbanks are struggling.”