TAVISTOCK Food Hub users are being asked to accept changes to what it can offer as price rises bite and the hub marks its first 18 months in operation.

The hub offers members a carrier bag full of food for only £5, but has scrapped its offer to members to only buy a £2.50 half-bag except in certain cicumstances such as health grounds.

Rachel Harrison-French, who set up the food hub, along with others in West Devon as the Feeding Devon charity, said the prices for a selection of fresh and packaged food remained highly affordable as people from all backgrounds continue to struggle with rising food prices.

She said: “In order to continue to cover our food purchases and transport costs we are introducing a couple of small changes.

“The savings on a £5 bag are very significant so we ask that people pay a donation for the food. We can no longer cover half bags as a main purchase, but at the end of our session we are almost always able to offer an additional half bag at £2.50, of whatever perishable chilled and fresh fruit and vegetables we still have and this is often great value. The exception to this is for members who have a very limited health diet and cannot eat a large selection of the food we have that week.”

She added: “Food inflation has hit 17 per cent at its highest and the cost of the weekly food bill is still very painful, but our bags have remained at £5 with a saving of often more than £20.

“Feeding Devon was set up to help anyone who was doing their best but couldn’t keep up with the unrelenting rise in prices. We hope that in some small way we have helped relieve some of the pressure.

“Your weekly shop with us should cover about 12 food items per bag and we endeavour to provide a balanced choice of packaged, chilled and fruit and veg, plus of course, free bread.

“Some weeks we have more of one category than another as the food we purchase is surplus and there is an element of randomness – lots of root vegetables at Christmas and then for some reason, a glut of tomatoes!

“We fundraise to buy back-up food for the weeks when our FareShare purchase is thin in one area. Last week a £5 bag would have bought you over £25 worth of food had you gone to the supermarket. This is based on the lowest possible prices for most items although I did include the full price for an M&S steak pie which sells for £5.50 and is a bit of a treat! I hope people will contnue to support us. Our service can only work if there is a need.”

The hub also offers hot drink, a pastry or a hot meal at 50p each to eat at the cafe. There is also fuel on offer in the form of smokeless coal which people can receive if they are struggling to afford coal to heat their homes.