Food bank's fears for low income families as Harrogate's panic buying continues amid coronavirus outbreak
Harrogate District Food Bank fears that continued panic buying from the town's supermarkets could have a harmful impact on low income families who don't have the luxury of being able to bulk buy.
The food bank's manager Lucy Stewart also fears the impact of any potential school closures on families who would usually rely on free school meals.
She said: "I'm concerned that the panic buying is going to have an impact on those who have to shop on a low budget week to week. They don't have the luxury of being able to bulk buy.
"Also if schools are closed we have the issue like we have during school holidays where families who rely on free school meals suddenly have to find extra meals for those children, except this is even more unexpected, and families will not have made any preparations for these extra costs.
"Obviously issues with social isolation will only be compounded by the situation, and things like the food bank helps to deal with this normally so we are concerned that people will become more and more isolated until this has passed."
Supermarket panic buying could also have an impact on the food bank's own supplies, Lucy warned.
She said: "We haven't seen any impact yet, but we suspect we will do if this carries on much longer. A lot of the items people are panic buying are the things we give away. Also, if people are unable to work in the weeks and months to come, they won't have spare money to buy the extra bits they would have normally bough to help the food bank."
The food bank is currently low on some supplies, including toilet rolls, deodarant, powdered milk, cleaning products, rice pudding and sponge puddings.
Lucy is also concerned about the food bank maintaining its services if the town's elderly population is asked to strictly self-isolate.
She said: "We are yet to see what impact this has on us. The most concerning thing at the moment is if the government ask over 70s to self-isolate - that makes it very difficult for us to carry on serving clients in the way we currently we do. We do have a back-up plan though, which enables us to serve people safely with less volunteers should it come to that.
"We will stay open as long as possible. Our voucher holders should all know about the alternative arrangements which we have put in place. Keep watching our social media posts for any updates concerning our services, and please keep donating to us. If you can't get any of the items we need but would still like to support us, our bank details are available on our website and we would appreciate financial support as our bills still need paying even in times like this."
If you think you might be able to help the food bank in any way, visit: https://harrogatedistrict.foodbank.org.uk/contact-us