FOODBANKS in Gwent handed out over 22,194 meals to more than 2,000 crisis-hit people in the last year.

The emergency food parcels, which amounts to £18,284 and contained nine meals of dried food per person, enough for three days, were given to 2,466 people who may have lost their job, had delays in receiving benefits, low-income families or find themselves homeless at foodbanks in Ebbw Vale, Blackwood and Risca.

There are six foodbanks in Gwent, of those three were launched recently in Chepstow, Abergavenny and Cwmbran and Pontypool, bringing the total number of foodbanks in Wales to 23.

Since April this year foodbanks in South-East Wales have fed 998 people.

The longest running foodbank in Ebbw Vale, which opened at Beech Grove more than three years ago, has seen the greatest increase by 98 per cent in April and May 2012 compared to the same period last year.

Adrian Curtis, Wales Foodbank Network manager for Trussel Trust, said more people are struggling because of the economic climate and need support.

"We are seeing more clients coming to us as a result of a combination of factors from a delay in benefits to low-income and debt.

"The prices of food are still high but salaries have stagnated or are dropping with people having to go part time or losing their jobs.

"A sudden change in circumstances can lead families into a crisis and can affect people from all backgrounds and income levels- as household budgets are squeezed we are seeing more people at risk of crisis."

Mr Curtis said he is seeing a growth in the number of working families coming to the food bank who can’t afford food or pay their bills.

Around 8.5 tonnes of food, worth £11,722 was distributed at the Ebbw Vale foodbank last year, helping 1582 people. Of those 561 were children.

Mr Curtis said the three new foodbanks are expected to feed over 2,500 local people during the first year.

Among the clients to use the foodbank at Ebbw Vale was a 48 year-old single mum of four who said:" If I had not had help from the foodbank I would have gone without food myself to feed my children."

A 47 year-old man who was struggling to pay the bills said: "It allowed me to put money on my gas and electric metre that week, otherwise I would not have been able to have heating or gas to cook with."