Businesses are being asked to provide volunteers to help West Cumbria’s foodbank prepare for coronavirus.

North Lakes Foodbank normally provides lunch packs for youngsters over the Easter holidays, but it is putting in place a contingency plan if schools are closed for longer and children do not have access to school meals.

It has the food in stock, but needs volunteers to help pack them up at its Lillyhall depot so they are ready to go if schools are closed for longer than the usual Easter break.

Adrian Cozens, project manager, said: “We are always planning four months in advance, so we have the food already there in anticipation of the summer holidays. But we need people to pack them.

“Businesses like Sellafield and its supply chain send their staff to us, normally at the end of May or beginning of June to donate time, but we’re thinking we need to move this forward, just in case.”It’s a contingency so we are prepared.”

The foodbank said it would need three to four people for two to three hours a couple of times a week to allow it to pack around 250 lunch bags.

Each bag provides enough lunchtime food for two children of junior or infant age for five days.

Coronavirus is already having an impact on the foodbank. Last week, volunteers were in Tesco in Workington collecting food.

Usually they are given around 700 kilos to 800 kilos of food, but last week, collected 400 kilos.

Adrian added: “There was nothing on the shelves for people to give us - all the value ranges had gone so for example, where you would get four packets of spaghetti for £2; all that was left on the shelves was one packet for £2 - so you aren’t getting as much food for the amount you are spending.

“We are at no way near crisis point, but there is definitely a difference.”

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