IN NEED: Loaves and Fishes food bank CEO Kylie Jennings said demand for the centre's relief hampers increased three-fold over the past five years, with more and more families feeling the financial pinch.
IN NEED: Loaves and Fishes food bank CEO Kylie Jennings said demand for the centre's relief hampers increased three-fold over the past five years, with more and more families feeling the financial pinch. Michael Nolan

Food aid demand spikes as families fall on hard times

THE Loaves and Fishes Care Service is a busy place with a growing number of Darling Downs families reaching out for help.

CEO Kylie Jennings said demand for low cost food hampers tripled in the past five years.

"We were doing an average of 200-300 hampers a month when we first opened in Toowoomba, now we are up around 800-900 hampers," she said.

"That is just the paid hampers and it does not include the pre-paid hampers we supply to 12 church charities and support agencies - like the Salvation Army - or the free ones we give out."

The growth in demand came from all sectors of the community. Mrs Jenning said the drought was a factor with families travelling from as far away as Cunnamulla, Kingaroy, Stanthorpe and Lowood to buy food.

But there were also plenty of Toowoomba families skirting the poverty line.

"It is the high cost of living, like electricity bills, car rego, fuel and groceries," Mrs Jennings said.

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"At the same time there is not enough work in Toowoomba. We are seeing more and more dual-income families."

Loaves and Fishies is an independent service, run by volunteers and Mrs Jennings said its doors were open to all.

Its hampers are valued about $250 but are sold to the public for $55.

"We do not ask questions and we are just here to feed people."



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