The charity Horsham Matters has seen the need to open five sites this year and they have helped 580 different clients to date.
Its centres, run in association with the Trussell Trust charity, spread from Horsham town in the north to Storrington in the south and they dispel all myths about the type of people who can find themselves needing handouts.
Anita Hambling is co-ordinator of the one which runs from the Horsham Christian Life Centre in East Street.
She said: “It’s so varied; it’s for so many different reasons. We had one guy who had cancer of the eye and had it removed.
“He came in with another younger lady and had to give up work to become a carer.
“While they were filling in the paperwork they needed the food. I was surprised by the variety of people , but also lots of older people.
“At first we were seeing more older people struggling financially. Now there are not many older people coming; most are young people and some off the street.”
The Horsham district foodbanks are always in need of non-perishable items including long life fruit juice, cereal, tinned food, pasta and rice and jarred sauces. They are also collecting Christmas food during the festive season.
Donations of basic toiletries, female hygiene products and toilet rolls are also welcome.
Horsham Matters community support co-ordinator Ruth Hodgson said: “For people who are already living at the limit of their means because of the cost of living and have an unexpected crisis like a car accident, redundancy of the main bread winner, the washing machine breaks down, the car breaks down - there’s no money for food; it’s gone.
“For people like that it’s a short-term crisis. We can give them three days’ worth of food. That’s three days they can spend sorting out their problem without telling the children the only thing in the cupboard is two cans of baked beans.”
Things are even worse in the South Downs.
Ruth added: “The issues we have down there are that people don’t have enough money for food and they don’t have the money to travel to get food.
“We have a volunteer who drops food to people. The cost of living is higher in places like that.”
The district’s churches and schools recently gave 1.5tonnes of food in the Harvest collections. That equates to 75 parcels to feed a family of four for three days.
Ruth said: “We were inundated with food, it was incredible.”
People are referred to the foodbank service from the district’s housing associations, Horsham District Council, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, the YMCA Y-Centre and social services.
They are given a token which they can exchange at one of the foodbanks for a parcel.
It is a long-established model used by the Christian charity the Trussell Trust, which has 420 foodbanks nationwide. Each is run in the community by churches and charities.
In 2013/2014 they fed more than 900,000 people in total.
Times and dates
The foodbanks run at the following locations and times:
Horsham - Wednesdays, 4pm to 6pm, Christian Life Centre, East Street (Opposite the Job Centre)
Horsham -Fridays, 1pm to 3pm, Quaker Meeting House, Worthing Road
Storrington - Thursdays 10am to 12noon, Little Footsteps Children & Family Centre, West Street
Henfield Evangelical Free Church, High Street, Fridays 10am to 11.30am
Billingshurst United Reformed Church, corner of High Street and West Street, - Fridays, 10am to 12noon,
On days when there is not a Horsham Matters foodbank running The ARK Horsham and the Horsham Salvation Army also run similar, but unlinked town centre services from their bases.
On Tuesday at 6pm the ARK gives parcels out from the Horsham United Reformed Church in Springfield Road and the Salvation Army, based in Booth Way, runs its Hope-In Community Service on Thursday at 6.30pm.
Opportunity to volunteer
People are being asked to give just two hours of their time, standing at the entrance of one of the Tesco stores next week handing foodbank shopping lists to shoppers coming in and collecting donations of food from those leaving the store.
The charity is always appealing for volunteers for any one of its foodbanks. Volunteers welcome and chat to the clients and prepare food parcels.
Ruth said: “I am aiming to open another foodbank in North Horsham in the new year, so we will need volunteers to man that.”
To take part call the Horsham Matters office on 01403 211833 or go to horsham-matters.org.uk.
In the coming weeks the County Times Caring Christmas Campaign will be featuring the work of ARK Horsham, the Horsham Age UK the Salvation Army’s toy appeal and the Horsham Churches Together Winter Night Shelter.