Food banks across North Yorkshire are preparing to help people over the festive period.

Alison Grainger, co-ordinator of Hambleton Foodshare, said they are collecting additional items for their food parcels, including boxes of chocolates and tubes of sweets for children over Christmas, as they prepare emergency food parcels to help people in financial crisis.

North Yorkshire County Council has given the charity free use of a building for a food store, where volunteers can also sort through donations.

The food bank provides its emergency aid to the public from the Zion Church Hall in Northallerton on Monday afternoons, as well as providing standby food parcels to agencies across Hambleton, including Citizens Advice, housing providers, women’s refuges and probation services.

Hambleton Foodshare provides three-day food parcels to help people in immediate financial crisis, most commonly after changing from one benefit to another, relationship breakdown, debt problems, loss of a job, sickness, or those fleeing domestic violence.

Customers are largely referred to the foodbank through an agency, or self-refer after demonstrating their need. The charity has found that people can come for up to six visits, but normally just use the food bank once.

Over Christmas last year, Hambleton Foodshare handed out a record 200 food hampers and 36 special parcels to people who would otherwise have struggled to put food on the table over the festive period.

Staff at County Hall, Northallerton, have been collecting donations over the past few weeks and on December 12 handed over the collection to Hambleton Foodshare.

Business support officer, Bethan Jones, who organised the collection within the council, said people had generously donated dozens of items and the boxes of donations were handed over to the charity on December 12.

The foodbank will be collecting items for its Christmas food parcels until Monday, December 16, and after that will return to collecting for its usual food hampers.

Hambleton Foodshare’s coordinator, Alison Grainger, said: “Over Christmas we donate our normal three-day food parcels topped up with Christmas treats and small presents for children and chocolates for families. We can’t provide things like turkeys, or anything like that, but the Christmas treats help make it feel special. We’re always very busy on Christmas Eve.

“We’d like to say thanks to North Yorkshire County Council and everybody else who donates items at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year. There’s a lot of generous people in the county.”

Alison said donations were always appreciated.

“People are always really grateful to receive help but people are particularly grateful at Christmas,” she said.

“Most people don’t want to come to a food bank. We always find most of our customers are just amazed that communities have given so much.

“You don’t have to make grand gestures to donate; just pick up a carton of UHT milk, a tin of ham or jam when you’re shopping. It all helps.”

Northallerton Town Football Club collects items every week from fans attending matches, who leave items in a collection point near the turnstiles.

Club chairman Peter Young said: “Donations are a simple way in which everyone can help. Even some of our visiting supporters donate to our collection.”

In addition to Christmas chocolates and treats, Hambleton Foodshare is also looking for donations for their regular food parcels, including:

  • Sponge puddings
  • Cereal bars
  • Tinned meat
  • Packets of mash potato
  • Small, variety packs of cereals
  • Toilet rolls
  • Jam
  • Coffee
  • UHT milk
  • Tinned spaghetti

Collection points include many local churches and other organisations including:

  • The Co-op and local churches in Bedale
  • Hambleton District Council’s Northallerton offices at Stone Cross and Town Close in Stokesley
  • Tesco, Northallerton
  • Sainsburys Northallerton
  • The Spar at Aiskew Garage
  • The Springboard Centre in Stokesley
  • Station Hotel in Northallerton

For details of other collection points see Hambleton Food Share.

Food banks are also operating in Selby, Harrogate, Malton and Skipton, while Thirsk Clock can provide assistance to those in need. For more details visit: