OKEHAMPTON Food-bank is to close one of its weekly sessions fol-lowing a 'significant fall in demand' for the service.

The town's foodbank is to stop running its Tuesday morning sessions from the beginning of May, with its Friday morning sessions carrying on as normal. It was only in May 2014 that the foodbank started opening on Tuesdays, to offer more flexibility to those in need.

Dermot Seale, Oke-hampton Foodbank chair-man, said that the organisation was currently handing out around two or three food parcels each week.

This is a huge drop in demand over recent years.

The months following the series of factory closures in Okehampton in early 2011 saw as many as 50 parcels being handed out each week.

The numbers quickly settled to around 16 to 20 parcels a week and over recent months, the number has been steadily dropping even further.

The news comes just days after it was announced that the number of people using foodbanks across the country had reached a record high, after an increase in workers on low pay having to seek emergency help for food. The Trussell Trust, a charity with a network of foodbanks across the UK, has said that more than one million, three-day food parcels were given out in the 2014 to 15 financial year, a rise of 19% on the previous 12 months.

These figures do not include Okehampton Foodbank, which broke away from the Trussell Trust in 2012 in order to become more flexible and help as many people as possible.

Mr Seale said he was 'pleased to note the reduction in demand' for the foodbank in the Okehampton area.

He also said the decline in need for the foodbank service was something possibly being reflected in other communities in the area.

He said: 'We have had such a significant fall in demand that it makes sense to withdraw the Tuesday session.

'We have had our volunteers sat in the baptist church for two hours and they have not seen a single person, so there is no need to open on a Tuesday.

'This goes against the trend that we read of in the national press and I am greatly encouraged by this.

'We will, of course, continue to provide support to those who find themselves in need. We would not close the service even if just one person or family needs our help.

'I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals, businesses and organisations who have supported the work of Okehampton Foodbank over the years, who continue to support us in this ongoing work.'

Volunteers at Okehampton Baptist Church give out food parcels to people struggling to put food on the table.

Parcels are made up in the foodbank's storage room underneath OK Leisure, aiming to provide a balanced mixture of groceries for those in need.

The foodbank was set up by Okehampton Baptist Church in conjunction with the Trussell Trust in October 2008 with the intention of helping families in crisis.

Prospective volunteers can find out more by dropping into the baptist church from 10am to noon on a Friday, visiting the foodbank website http://www.okefoodbank.org.uk">www.okefoodbank.org.uk or by e-mailing [email protected]">[email protected]

As well as appealing for help from volunteers, food and monetary donations are always welcome.

Gifts of food can be delivered to Okehampton Baptist Church during the Friday sessions, or to OK Leisure on Fore Street during shop opening hours.

Foodstuffs ideal for donation include tinned goods, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, corned beef, pasta and pasta sauce.

Okehampton Foodbank is there to help anyone in genuine need. If you need the foodbank's help, visit the Baptist Church on a Friday between 10am and noon.