‘MALNOURISHED’ schoolchildren are among the first people to have benefited from a new foodbank.
Hounslow Community FoodBox was launched at the beginning of April and began distributing goods to impoverished residents from the end of May.
Recipients can be referred to the project from a variety of sources, including GPs and social workers.
Children turning up for lessons having not eaten properly, and often struggling to concentrate as a result, are some of the first to have been put forward.
"The schools have been really good because they’re identifying families where children are coming to school malnourished," said project adviser Oonah Lacey. "If children aren’t properly fed they often can’t concentrate and we’re particularly concerned what will happen this summer when they’re not getting their free school meals."
The foodbank was jointly set up by Hounslow Council – which provided £40,000 for the year – and Hounslow Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations (HFTRA). It is supported by ASDA. It is working with other foodbanks in the borough to help those hit by the economic downturn and benefit cuts.
Nearly 40 volunteers have already signed up to the scheme, which collects and distributes food from its base at Fraser House, Brentford, and Ms Lacey said donations had been flowing in.
However, the project has came under fire from left-wing blogger James Bloodworth, who writes for the Independent. He objected to a line in the eligibility guidelines, saying those in constant difficulties due to ‘chaotic lifestyles’ and those under sanctions from a Jobcentre will not qualify for a voucher.
"If, even at the doors of some foodbanks, a distinction is now being drawn between ‘shirkers’ and ‘strivers’, then we on the progressive left really do have a problem," he wrote on the site Left Foot Forward.
A petition has subsequently been started on the campaign website 38degrees, calling on Councillor Steve Curran, the foodbank’s chairman, to make help available to all in need.
In response to the criticism, the foodbank’s organisers promised to meet with those making referrals to review the eligibility criteria.
Ms Lacey said the criteria were only meant as guidelines for those making referrals, who are ultimately free to choose who benefits.
Visit www.hounslowfoodbox.org.uk or call 020 8577 5596 for more about Hounslow Community FoodBox.
n collection: Councillor Steve Curran, chairman of Hounslow Community FoodBox, and ASDA Hounslow community champion Varinder Kaur Contributed