A food charity says it is distributing three times as much food now as it was pre-pandemic - supporting around 15,000 people in Suffolk.

FareShare East Anglia regional manager Mike Barrett said "demand is huge" and working families faced with rising fuel bills were now turning to foodbanks.

The charity has outgrown its premises in Leslie Road, Ipswich, and is nearing completion on a move to a bigger site in Colchester.

The organisation, which redistributes food donations from supermarkets to charities and food banks, outlined the stark increase in demand the Covid-19 pandemic caused.

Mr Barrett said: “Pre-Covid we were averaging around 30 tonnes a month going out the door.

“Covid hit, the demand was massive and we had to take on a second warehouse and we were averaging 155 tonnes per month out the door out of Ipswich.

“At the moment we are operating out of one of our sister sites in Nottingham, and we are shipping stock down from Nottingham into Ipswich but we are still managing to do 90 tonnes per month out of the Ipswich site on a reduced crew because the demand is still there.”

Mr Barrett said around 15,000 people in the Suffolk area were supported per year through the organisation’s work.

The Suffolk County Council scrutiny meeting on poverty heard that soaring demand nationally for foodbanks meant there were now more foodbanks than McDonald’s in the country – 2,000 foodbanks compared to around 1,300 McDonald’s.

Mr Barrett said: “The demand is huge, we are finding that there is an increase from our charities we have gone back to they say they are getting an average of about 75% demand extra food, it is really noticeable.

“An average small charity will take about 100 kilos a week, they are now coming to us saying can we have two, three, four hundred kilos a week. The demand is huge and we can only see this growing.

“It’s people not at the lowest end of the pay scale, it’s working families, it’s mums and dads that have hit the crisis and have got extra bills to pay.”