In response to news that stores of emergency food parcels for the Highlands are at their lowest levels for a decade, two Highland MSPs have now made their constituency office a drop-off point for food bank donations.
The constituency office of Kate Forbes MSP and Maree Todd MSP, situated prominently on Dingwall High Street, is welcoming donations of non-perishable items such as packets of rice, long-life fruit juice, oatcakes and jars of coffee.
The pair have teamed up with Blythswood Care, who run the Highland food bank network, after it was revealed that the number of children receiving help from the Dingwall food bank rose by 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “When we saw the recent plea for food bank donations, we thought this was something we could do to help.
“For the first six months of the year, 40 children have received food parcels from the Dingwall food bank, which is more than a 50 per cent increase on the previous year (26). This is deeply concerning.
“Across the Highlands there is a 10 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of adults receiving food parcels, whilst the number is over 25 per cent for children.
“It’s a sign of the times that people are dependent on food donations in a rich country - and an indictment on welfare reform which has left people with no other choices.”
Maree Todd MSP added: “I am of course glad that myself and Kate Forbes MSP can do something to help by providing a foodbank drop-off point at our office, but I am heart sore it’s even necessary.
“The sharp rise in foodbank use is largely a result of UK Government welfare reform. The disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit that was piloted in the Highlands has resulted in vast swathes of unnecessary suffering.
“Folk, many of whom are working, are being driven into destitution and families are being left with no choice but to rely on foodbanks.
“These are political choices and its high time those in power in Westminster took responsibility for the unnecessary suffering they are causing to folk in the Highlands, and indeed across the UK.”
Blythswood Care's projects manager, Finlay Mackenzie, said: “Sadly we see an increase in referrals to our food banks across the Highlands year on year.
“This summer there has been an even greater need with many families needing extra support who would usually receive free school meals and have children who attend breakfast clubs.
“Food donations usually drop during the summer but with media support we have been very encouraged by the generous donations by the public.
“We are very grateful for the support and involvement of Kate Forbes MSP and Maree Todd MSP whose backing helps to highlight the plight of local people in times of crisis.”