There has been a 40% year-on-year increase in the number of people using Clydesdale Foodbank.
That rise shocked South Scotland Labour list MSP Claudia Beamish last week when she met the food bank’s volunteers to get an update on the work they are doing.
The volunteers told her the most common cause for the rise in demand was the six-week delay in the payment of the first instalment of universal credit.
Food bank co-ordinator Ronnie Muirhead said that referrals this year were well up on last year.
“Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking assistance from Clydesdale FoodBank,” he said.
“Currently, we are eight weeks ahead of our 2016 referrals, and all the indications are that this will be another record year.
“Our greatest wish is that food banks will no longer be required, but there is little evidence to suggest this will become a reality.”
He said that the volunteers are only able to continue with their mission of eliminating food poverty in Clydesdale “through the unstinting generosity of all those churches, schools, local businesses, clubs, organisations and individuals who regularly provide the much needed food and financial donations, which allow us to purchase much needed supplies of fresh food.
He added: “We are also indebted to our dedicated team of volunteers, drivers, and satellite co-ordinators who provide the back up support on which we depend.”
Ms Beamish said after the visit: “It was good to meet with Ronnie, Liz and the other volunteers at Clydesdale Foodbank to learn about the hard work they have been doing lately for the most in need in our community.
“It is heartening to see how much support the food bank gets from members of the public, but is sad that in 2017 this sort of service is needed at all.
“We discussed how difficult it is for a food bank to work in a rural setting, due to the lack of transport and the cost that is involved in travelling to the food bank which causes problems for people receiving their food parcels.
“The food bank combats this by dropping food packages off to people in the most rural areas.”
Volunteers are always needed, and anyone wanting to volunteer or to donate food, cleaning products, toiletries or sanitary products can call 01555 771700.
Donations can also be made in Tesco supermarkets throughout Clydesdale.