FOOD banks across Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch are experiencing increased number of clients needing food parcels, with some having to close to the public.

Some food banks have continued to stay opened with restricted capacity of customers, as well as reduced staff working longer hours to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Others, including Kinson and West Howe Foodbank, have been forced to shut their doors to the public but continue their service through home deliveries.

The operations manager at Kinson and West Howe Foodbank, which ceased its face-to-face collections, said: “We have taken time out to review our current operations

“Last Friday we had over 70 families queued up at the door, we just can’t have that.

“To get over this, last Wednesday and Friday we gave people a number, told them to sit and their cars and wait for their number to be called but that didn’t work either as people were still stood right next to each other.”

The foodbank is asking those who have been given vouchers from churches, social workers and schools to email a picture of the voucher along with a contact number in order to qualify for a home delivery

The operations manager added: “Even though we are closed, we are still here for our community.

“We will do our best to feed them, but we also have to consider every option.

“We are doing deliveries, but families may receive a reduced amount than they usually get.

Bournemouth Foodbank are continuing operations at three of its four sites in the town, as well as deploying a fleet of delivery drivers to help with those who are self-isolating.

Manager of Bournemouth Foodbank Debbie Bramley said: “All out sites have restricted capacity to just handing over food parcels at the door after checking vouchers.

“We are working longer hours but reduces staff in the warehouse so we can keep the risks as low as possible with social distancing, but still enabling us to support as many people as possible.

“We have seen increased numbers of clients and our phone lines are constantly in use as are the email and social media lines of communication.

“We are doing our best to help and get back to people as quickly as we can.”

However, many of the pupils that remain in school are those on low income and rely on free school meals. Foodbanks are continuing to keep up with this demand and provide for these vulnerable students.

Faithworks Wessex run five food banks in the Bournemouth area, in Blandford, Christchurch, Poole, Southbourne and Wimborne.

The charity’s CEO Alistair Doxat-Purser said: “There has been really good cooperation between the foodbanks, we have had calls with all the foodbanks in the area to see how we can best serve our clients during this current situation

“In order to protect our staff and the public, we are operating more as a collection point. It is quite a logistical operation to do deliveries so, for people who can’t get out of their homes, we encourage them to contact a neighbour or friend who can collect for them.

“Our volunteers have been amazing; some have stepped back because of health issues but those that are still working have been superb. It is so encouraging to see the community spirit.

“We encourage people to continue donating food to food boxes at supermarkets and we urge that foodbanks are there as a last resort and we will do our best to help.”