A SINGLE mum living on the breadline claims she’s been forced to eat just two bowls of cereal in three days to ensure her daughter can eat.

The desperate Upton woman made the shock admission after a Daily Echo report highlighted the growing ranks of cash-starved residents struggling to feed their families across the conurbation.

Yesterday, the manager of Poole Food Bank – a charitable organisation providing emergency food packages – said she’d seen a “dramatic increase” in the numbers of local residents seeking help.

Figures for February show the charity, based at Poole’s Longfleet United Reformed Church, dealt with 252 referrals - an increase of 84 compared to January.

At this rate the food bank could be on track to hand out twice as much emergency food aid this year, compared to 2010.

The young mum said: “I’d love for some of you to live a day in my shoes – laying awake all night wondering how you’re going to afford everything each day.

“All I have had to eat in the past three days is two bowls of cereal, so that there is food for my daughter to eat.”

Another woman, Kath Dipple, said she is only just making ends meet.

“If things continue the way they are for the next few months, me and my husband are going to end up down at the food bank.”

The 30-year-old, who works full-time at Bournemouth and Poole College, explained her husband lost his job last December.

“My wage covers the rent and bills but all we have left is £65 a week which simply does not cover food, travel to work and other expenses.

“The majority of us are only three wage packets away from poverty and eventual homelessness.”

Poole’s Citizens Advice Bureau says it hasn’t dealt with as many hungry families since the recession of the early 1990s.

These revelations come hot-on-the-heels of a report highlighting British supermarket prices have rocketed three times faster than the rest of Europe.

Poole Food Bank manager Lorraine Russell said: “There has been a dramatic rise in people asking us for help.

“We are seeing an increasing number of larger families coming along as well.

“I’ve had a client who was not eating in order that her children could eat.”

The food packages are issued via referrals from the CAB, social services, church groups, healthcare professionals and housing associations.

Mrs Russell said: “People who are long-term sick or on low incomes are finding it hard to keep up with rising food prices.

“It can be quite difficult for people to just come through the doors.”

THE Citizens Advice Bureau’s Sue Bristow fears the numbers of residents seeking help to feed their families, that she has dealt with in Poole, could be the thin end of the wedge.

She said: “I’ve been working in the CAB since the early eighties and I’ve not seen things this bad since the last big recession. It has improved for people a lot over the past few years, but the situation has suddenly gone bad again.”

To help the with donations call 01202 669566 or email poolefood@hotmail.co.uk