Over 150 food parcels have been distributed in Skye and Lochalsh in the first two months of this year.
In recent weeks the community food bank for Skye and Lochalsh has expanded to include a branch in Broadford, making distribution easier in the south of the island where several families in need have received help.
The Co-op has donated a room above its Broadford supermarket for the new food bank store.
A team of about 20 volunteers in south Skye are now helping source food and supplies, and they have been helped by donations from Mowi, MacGregors’ and a ‘reverse’ advent project run by pupils at Broadford primary school before Christmas.
Organisers said the need for a satellite foodbank in south Skye and Lochalsh became clear as requests in this area had doubled in the past two years.
In its opening fortnight, the Broadford foodbank gave out 22 parcels, while 136 have been distributed from Portree since the turn of the year.
Davina McCluskie, who chairs the Skye and Lochalsh community foodbank project, said: “The key factors influencing foodbank use have been austerity measures, benefits systems – particularly for individuals experiencing mental health issues who find it extremely difficult to navigate the protracted benefits systems – and the delays that occur in receiving PIP and universal credit benefits.
“More people are now individually self-referring to the foodbank as a result of greater awareness of the food bank in the community.”
Individuals in need can either make contact through the foodbank’s Facebook page or they can be referred through housing agencies, social work, the citizens advice bureau or charities such as Young Carers.
Typically, a food parcel will contain enough to feed a family of four for three days.
Foodbank volunteers continue to welcome donations of tinned goods, rice and pasta, ready-mixed sauces, oatcakes, tea, coffee, biscuits, cleaning products, toiletries and pet food.
By Keith MacKenzie