A FOOD bank is being set up to feed hungry families in Crawley.
Crawley Community and Voluntary Service (CCVS), Crawley Open House and The Easter Team are launching the service to support existing groups providing help to the most disadvantaged.
There are currently more than 20 voluntary and community organisations and faith groups in the town providing food services to residents who are struggling to put meals on the table.
The food bank will act as a central location to store food and manage its distribution to the individual groups so they can hand it out either in food parcels or by providing meals.
David Clay, senior development officer at CCVS, said: "We have seen an increase in demand for food provision in recent years from the homeless and disadvantaged.
"And this includes working families who are struggling to feed themselves.
"There is a shocking statistic that one in six parents say they have gone without a meal themselves so they could put a meal on the table for the rest of their family.
"We are finding that for these families food is part of their budget they can go without. They have to pay their rent or mortgage so they are cutting out food spending."
The partnership has been offered free use of a base by Airwave Marketing International, a heating engineering business in Spindle Way, Three Bridges.
It is planned to be up and running by Harvest Festival in September, and there is already a long list of volunteers in place wanting to assist.
Mr Clay explained that the project has been in the planning stages for the last three years.
He said: "We found Crawley doesn't need a traditional food bank.
"We currently have 20-plus organisations giving food. The Friary Church provides meals on a Sunday and The Easter Team gives out 30 to 70 meals on a Saturday at St Barnabus Church and offers food parcels for the most disadvantaged.
"Then in Broadfield we have churches offering food services and Inspire Broadfield provides meals and food for children.
"What we intend to do is assist these existing services to serve more people in need."
Ian Phillips, chairman of The Easter Team, believes the food bank offering a constant supply of food will be of great help.
He said: "We tend to receive our main donations at harvest and then Christmas, which means we can have a drop-off in supplies in the new year. This regular supply of food will be a big assistance."
The next stage of the project sees bulk donations from Crawley businesses in the food industry being sought.
Mr Clay said: "We are hoping for donations on a relatively large scale from Crawley-based corporate and commercial food providers, caterers and super-markets.
"For example, a large commercial can of tomato puree could be used by a community service to make many meals.
"In time we are also going to need fridges and freezers to store supplies."
The partnership has been given £2,500 in funding by Crawley's county local committees, which is being used for start up costs including insurance.
Long-term the plan is to set up an independent charity to run the project.
Companies interested in donating towards the cause should call David Clay on 01293 657158 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org