FAMILIES are hitting 'crisis' point as they struggle to find enough food during the school holidays.

Stock levels at Taunton Foodbank are running low after seeing 33 per cent more people in July than this time last year.

Sue Weightman, manager at the food bank, said it's hard to tell how much stock they usually need over the summer period, but this year it's obvious to her families are in need.

She said: "The long school holidays are a problem for some families.

"Some families have children who are eligible for free school meals, then all of a sudden have to find three meals a day during the holidays.

"We normally give out school boxes during the holidays, as well as Christmas and Easter, but our low levels of stock mean they are smaller than we would like.

"Normally we would give out three boxes to each family during the summer, but we are only currently able to do two boxes."

To tackle this, foodbank staff are pleading with Taunton residents to help them replenish their stocks.

Ms Weightman added: "If we had more stock we could certainly give out more boxes and then ensure they are bigger, too."

The dedicated manager said issues such as universal credit have played a part in the sharp increase of food bank users, with 518 people using the service in July, 220 of which were children.

"Universal Credit worked for some people," She added. "But for others, like some low income families using the foodbank, it doesn't work well.

"Families are struggling more this year.

"It can take something as simple as a school holiday to throw them into crisis."

The community of Taunton has come together before to help the foodbank, and Ms Weightman says she and her team are grateful for the support they receive each time they issue a plea for donations.

The situation is not just a struggle in Taunton, as other foodbanks in the area are also seeing similar patterns of usage.

Ms Weightman said: "We usually can manage, but because we have seen an increase in clients needing to use the foodbank there are some items we are running low on.

"We have this blip and we don't want to run dry."

A range of goods are needed, and any extra treats would be an 'absolute bonus' for families as well as other foodbank users.

The foodbank is in need of the following items:

• Tinned rice puddings
• Tins of hot and cold meats
• Long life fruit juice
• Tinned fruit
• Pasta sauces
• Tinned carrots
• Tinned peas
• Sugar
• Treats for school boxes ie bar of chocolate/sweets/biscuits etc
• Long life milk
• Instant mash potato

All donations can be delivered to the Foodbank at Unit 4, Belvedere Trading Estate, Albemarle Road, Taunton, TA1 1BH on Mondays and Thursdays between 9.30am and 11.30am and Tuesdays and Fridays between 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

Most major supermarkets in and around Taunton have collection points as well.

All details can be found at taunton.foodbank.org.uk.

People can also contact Sue Weightman by calling 07761 624216 or 01823 270316.