A FOOD bank in Henley has seen an increase in demand.
The Light House has organised the delivery of 115 food bags to needy residents this Christmas.
Families of four people or fewer receive two bags and families of five or more receive four bags.
The bags contain basic foodstuff such as baked beans, pasta and rice and household wares, such as soap and toilet rolls.
The food bank is based at the d:two centre in Market Place and is run by youth and community group Nomad.
The group estimates that 296 people will be helped this Christmas, about half of them children.
Needy families and individuals are identified for the scheme by the Henley Citizens Advice Bureau, schools, children?s centres, churches, doctors, the police and Nomad itself. Sarah Lane, a youth support worker, said: ?Everyone has a basic food parcel with things like tins of soup and dried pasta but we have added extra Christmas items such as biscuits.
?In previous years we have had a lot of single people but this year they are mostly families. The number of people we are helping is quite large for a town like Henley.?
The scheme is just part of the service the charity provides.
Ms Lane said: ?We also offer support ? we don?t just drop a food bag off and run. This could be support such as sitting with people for an hour.?
The majority of food donations come from harvest festivals, churches, schools and individual donations. One family from Henley sends in a monthly Tesco order to the food bank.The donations are stored at the centre and sorted to make packing easier.
Sue Prior, project leader, said: ?We are helping more people than last year and we are averaging about 25 to 30 bags a month going out to residents.
?People needing food bags cover a wide range of backgrounds and it is not necessarily one class either. But with all this going out, our stocks have been taken right down and we need new stock to be able to continue.?
The food bags were distributed on Monday with the help of town councillors David Eggleton and Sarah Miller.
Councillor Eggleton, who lives in Gainsborough Road, said: ?Nomad does a lot of good and helps a lot of people and maybe a lot of people don?t realise just how much it does.
?I went to its annual meeting and learned about the food distribution and that?s why Sarah and I were delighted to help out with deliveries. People are just so grateful.?
He also thanked Nomad for providing four food hampers to give away at the Gainsborough Residents? Group Christmas party, which was held at the Catherine Wheel pub two weeks ago.
• If you would like to donate to the food bank, you can drop off items at the d:two centre in Market Place. Alternatively, call Nomad on (01491) 635737.