The number of people using food banks in Brighton and Hove has gone up 25 per cent in a year to more than 6,400 a week, according to local charities.
And government support is due to end within weeks, prompting a number of charities to set up a crisis appeal crowdfunder.
The online appeal has already raised more than £12,000 in its first few weeks from dozens of donors whose money will boost local food banks and support people with winter fuel bills.
The appeal has a target of £35,000 on its Just Giving page. A similar appeal last year raised more.
The organisers said: “Last year, our crisis appeal raised a whopping £76,000 thanks to the generosity of people in our community who donated in their droves.
“This meant we could help so many people when they were in desperate need.
“Once again, we are asking you to help us ensure that people in the city can eat and heat their homes and thank you for your donation whatever you can give
“Even before this decision emergency food providers were struggling to cope with the numbers needing food and removal of this safety net will mean more people looking for help.”
The organisers said: “In 2023, the number of city residents accessing emergency food provision rose to 6,441 every week which is an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year.
“Almost half the city’s food banks report not having enough money to buy food for the year ahead.”
This prompted the creation of the Brighton and Hove Cost of Living Action Appeal – a local appeal to help people in poverty with their food and fuel costs.
The organisations behind the appeal give out vouchers, food parcels and low-energy items such as electric blankets and slow cookers to enable people to maintain their health.
They said: “Heating or eating became the most important decision many residents of the city had to make in 2023.
“We are now in the serious situation where people can’t afford to do either as household incomes do not meet living costs.
“Households most likely to be in poverty include those where someone in the home has a disability and they have to keep utilities on not just for warmth and cooking but for health equipment such as hoists, nebulisers and fridges for medication.
“Each week in Brighton and Hove, nearly 2,000 children rely on emergency food providers for their meals, with two thirds of children in poverty living in a working family.”
The crowdfunder has been set up by Brighton and Hove Citizens Advice, the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and emergency food providers, with the support of Brighton and Hove City Council.
The organisers said: “The donations will be split with 50 per cent going to provide help with fuel poverty and 50 per cent going to pay for emergency food.
“The partners (Citizens Advice and the Food Partnership) will keep this under review and post updates if we direct more funding towards food or fuel crisis help because of need.
“The fund will pay for prepayment vouchers for utilities or payments into utility accounts and it will pay for food parcels or food vouchers.
“It will also be used to purchase equipment that helps with food and fuel poverty such as slow cookers, microwaves or electric blankets.
“Those specific food projects you will be supporting are BMECP, CASE, Salvation Army (Hove), Lunch Positive, Bevendean Food Bank and Phoenix Food Shop.
“We know it is tough for most of us right now. However, by donating what you can, we will ensure that your money goes to helping vulnerable people in our city through food, vouchers and money for energy bills and low-energy heating and cooking equipment.
“The funds will be used to support existing schemes run by the Moneyworks Partnership, which is led by Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove, and the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
“And while there are transaction costs that need to be paid when we issue vouchers, no overheads or salaries will be paid for out of this fund to maximise the amount available to the public.
“Every £49 energy voucher we give out will keep an average household going for four days. In 2019 that would have kept them going for two weeks.
“Food banks will use every penny they get to provide food to their clients. The average parcel or supermarket voucher will cost around £20 per client.
“Surplus food and food donations are supplemented by project volunteers bulk-buying items to ensure that the parcel is adequate for people’s needs.”
One food project volunteer said: “We are scrambling for the cash to fund the amount of surplus shopping we need to buy each week at the moment. This is not something we have had to do before the ‘cost of living crisis’.”
To donate, click here.
To support a local food bank, visit the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership map and directory.