PEEBLESSHIRE Foodbank were giving out over 20 emergency food parcels a week in the Borders during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Trussell Trust.

The food bank, one of over 1,200 supported by the Trussell Trust across the UK, gave out a total of 542 food parcels between April and September to people in need.

That figure is up from the 338 parcels given out by the food bank between that same period in 2019.

Manager of Peeblesshire Foodbank, Francis Mordaunt, says that they had to spend “a lot” on food in March, but the “tremendous support” from the Peebles community has allowed the service to deal with the increased demand.

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“We have never really been short of food, the people in Peebles are incredibly generous,” said Mr Mordaunt. “With the Trussell Trust agreement Tesco sent all Trussell Trust foodbanks food every week for 11 weeks and therefore we have still got plenty of most items.

“We have more food than we have ever carried before. It has been a lot of work but we have never run out of food completely.”

According to Mr Mordaunt, in the seven months before October, Peeblesshire Foodbank fed 618 people, a 59% increase on the 388 they fed in that period last year.

The food bank has received grants to help ensure it can continue to serve the area, including one from Peebles Community Trust.

Local Girl Guides have also been collecting money to buy food for the bank, currently based in the hall at St Joseph’s Church.

“The help has been terrific,” said Mr Mordaunt. “At the start, we lost more than half of our volunteers on account of age and health.

“Donations haven’t dropped. A lot of people sent us cash instead of food because they couldn’t shop any longer. Organisations have got together, the Girl Guides in Peebles are still buying food for us with that money.

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“It’s been a combination really of all the people who have supported us in the past.”

In total, over 1.2 million food parcels were distributed by Trussell Trust food banks across the UK between April and September this year, a 47% increase on 2019’s distribution.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, says that food bank volunteers “have been working under extremely difficult circumstances”.

“This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit us suddenly, with devastating consequences for people’s lives,” said Ms Revie. “But it’s also shown we can make huge changes to the way we live and look after each other.”

Peeblesshire Foodbank is open between midday and 2pm every Tuesday and Thursday.