A NEW Malvern foodbank is bringing forward its launch following an appeal to help feed children in the town over Christmas.

The Malvern Hills Foodbank (MHFB) was scheduled to open its doors in January, but has been asked to step in and provide emergency food to cover the holidays following a rise in the number of families with young children seeking help at local children’s centres.

Steve Geal, the charity’s co-ordinator, said: “We’re not talking about luxuries or Christmas treats, we’re talking parents who are facing the choice between having the heating on or feeding their children.

“The sudden cold snap has pushed many families into crisis.”

The foodbank had been working with local services such as the Sunshine Children’s Centre, in Bluebell Close, to prepare for its launch in January, traditionally a hard month for many families.

But its partners have taken the unprecedented step of asking the foodbank to bring forward its launch to make some special hampers to give out so that no child in the town goes hungry over Christmas.

Foodbanks have been springing up all over the country –Malvern’s is the 282nd set up in partnership with the Trussell Trust – and Mr Geal feels there is a genuine need in Malvern.

“Anyone can suddenly find themselves in a food crisis,” he said.

“In Malvern the problem is hidden because we live in such wonderful surroundings.

“People don’t imagine that their neighbours might be going hungry but we have people in work as well as the unemployed coming to us for help.

“The foodbank will step in to offer enough food to tide them over for at least three days so that they don’t go hungry.”

Until now, the Churches Together in Malvern group has been running an emergency food parcel scheme from the Lyttleton Well, in Church Street.

However demand has grown to such an extent that those premises are no longer able to cope.

The new Malvern Foodbank will be operating out of a dedicated unit on the Howsell Road Industrial Estate and handing out crisis food parcels to pensioners and vulnerable people in the Malvern Hills district, who will be referred to them by care professionals.

Residents are being asked to help out and donate food to help the foodbank cope with the demands of the Christmas food crisis.

Donations can be made directly to Lyttleton Well, Unit 3 at the Howsell Road Industrial Estate, or via local churches.

“Just one item from our shopping list will make a big difference to someone in Malvern this Christmas,” said Mr Geal.