The manager of Watford Foodbank has given an insight into just how in-demand the service has been over the last year.

Thousands of people across the town have relied on food parcels and other support since the nation was plunged into lockdown last spring.

The Trussell Trust has reported foodbanks in its network across the east of England have provided 245,000 emergency food parcels to people facing crisis between April 2020 and March 2021, including 102,000 to children.

In Watford, more than 10,700 parcels were distributed to people over that time period, including 4,143 children. The figure of more than 10,700 was up from just under 7,500 the year before.

Watford Foodbank in Imperial Way

Watford Foodbank in Imperial Way

Andrew Tranter, who works at Watford Foodbank, says he and his team have supported more than 12,000 people - and fortunately they have have never fallen short of food to give out thanks to an incredibly generous community.

He told the Observer: "Despite the restrictions, we had to find ways of continuing to support the community. Food poverty took on a whole new meaning for many, who found that through no fault of their own, the ability to support the family had been drastically reduced and reluctantly turned to foodbanks for support.

"Fortunately the donations to support the demand increased and during the pandemic we were never short of food. In December alone, we had over 20 tonnes of donations."

Mr Tranter says low income has been one of the biggest reasons for why people have turned to the foodbank for help, with 73 per cent of those accessing their service unable to make ends meet.

Previously, benefit changes and delays was the most common reason why people had to visit a foodbank.

Watford MP Dean Russell pictured with Watford foodbank manager Andrew Tranter at the foodbank earlier this year

Watford MP Dean Russell pictured with Watford foodbank manager Andrew Tranter at the foodbank earlier this year

Neighbouring Three Rivers and Hertsmere have also experienced a rise in the number of parcels distributed over the last year.Trussell Trust figures show nearly 10,000 parcels were handed out in Hertsmere - up from around 4,000, with around 4,500 parcels given in Three Rivers - up from 1,790.

Paying tribute to all those who have stepped in to help those in need, Mr Tranter said: "We are grateful to the dedication and commitment of our volunteers; only this week our senior volunteer, 85 years young has decided to hang up her marker pen. We look forward to a time when foodbanks are no longer necessary and the division of wealth is more equally distributed.

"The demand has eased a little; we are still getting through ten tonnes of food a month which equates to around 250 people a month. Fortunately we are receiving a similar quantity in donations.

"We value the support of the community. We couldn't do it without you."