Labour's parliamentary candidate for Monmouthshire, Catherine Fookes, joined County Councillor Jill Bond and volunteers in Caldicot to prepare Christmas food parcels for families struggling financially this Christmas.


Ms Fookes and Ms Bond attended Caldicot Food Bank's annual Christmas parcel event at Caldicot Methodist Church, organised by the food bank manager, Danielle Cadden. They spent several hours sorting over one hundred and fifty food hampers, which fed more than five hundred people. The food parcels contained festive foods, sweet treats donated and collected at Aldi, and toys and gifts, which The Original Factory Shop in Caldicot donated.


Speaking about the scheme, Ms Fookes said, "I commend the work of Danielle and volunteers at the food bank who work tirelessly to provide an invaluable service to the community. I am pleased to have helped support such an important cause. However, the fact that we need food banks in the United Kingdom is nothing short of a disgrace. The government's disastrous inflation crisis has hit families in Monmouthshire hard. Thousands will be forced to rely on food banks for support this Christmas."


Trussell Trust statistics show that at the end of the financial year 2022/2023, the Trust supplied 2.99 million emergency food parcels to people in the United Kingdom, a 37% increase compared to the previous year, and a record high. This year's level of need across the United Kingdom is over double (120%) the number of parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust network five years ago in 2018. The food bank in Caldicot is an independent food bank which is part of the Newport charity Raven House Trust. Therefore, the Trussell Trust statistics do not cover data on its usage and other independent food banks.


Danielle Cadden, the Manager of Caldicot Food Bank, said, "We are seeing more demand for our services than ever in our history. It is thanks to the generosity of our community that we are managing well for now, but this increase in demand, along with a reduction in donations as people feel the pinch, gives us concern for the future." 


Ms Fookes added, "While billions of taxpayers' money have been wasted through failed or inflated PPE contracts, millions of people have been plunged into poverty. This year's record high food bank usage highlights the urgent need for change in UK government so we can get this decade of decline behind us and have a UK government that will focus on growth and tackling inequality."