Wandsworth Food Bank is celebrating after opening its fifth distribution centre.
The new centre, on Wimbledon Park Road, Southfields will be open Mondays from 12.30pm to 2.30pm meaning emergency food and support is now available within the borough seven days a week.
Wandsworth Food Bank has helped 2,700 people including 1,100 children since its opening last May, 42 per cent of which are experiencing benefit delays, changes or sanctions.
This includes those who are waiting weeks or months for disability benefit payments to be assessed and implemented, according to Wandsworth Food Bank manager, Dan Frith.
People moving on and off Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and those on a low income experiencing a delay in receiving their top-up benefits, are also being referred by frontline professionals, he said.
Mr Frith said: “We would love to see a time when far fewer food banks are needed or ideally none at all.
“We would love to do ourselves out of a job by raising awareness of the difficulties people are finding themselves in so that proper provisions including a living wage, secure employment and less delays in the welfare system can be put in place to ensure no family needs to go hungry.”
Benefit sanctions for not following the rules, such as leaving a job for no reason or not going to interviews or medical examinations, are also contributing to the numbers.
Other reasons include domestic violence, unemployment and refused Short-term Benefit Advance.
The centre is opening so Earlsfield and Southfields residents in need won’t have to spend money on transport to receive their emergency food.
4.7 million people in the UK live in food poverty, according to research by The Centre for Economic and Business Research, commissioned by Kellogg’s.
Care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice Bureau staff, welfare officers, the police and probation officers, identify people in crisis and issue them with a voucher, which is exchanged for three days worth of food.
The centre joins St Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise, the Yard, 401-403 Tildesley Road, Putney, St Paul’s Church, Furzedown and Shaftesbury Christian Centre, Battersea in the borough.
The food bank receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of the public, businesses and charitable trusts, including churches and schools.
To find out more, visit www.wandsworth.foodbank.org.uk.