Dewsbury Minster is struggling with a relentless tide of demand for aid for the needy.
The church is appealing for help in providing all the support which is needed.
And its minister, the Rev Canon Kevin Partington, warns the situation could worsen when benefits changes come into force in 2013.
“We feel impotent to meet all that people need,” he said. “We are struggling and the numbers needing help will continue to rise.”
Continuing a centuries-old tradition, the Minster hands out food and drink to people six – sometimes seven – days a week.
“Hospitality is part of the community ministry on which we were founded in Saxon times,” he said.
Every day, people can go to the church for soup, a sandwich and a hot drink, 9.30am-11am.
“No cost. No questions,” said Mr Partington.
The service is funded mainly by donations and through the well-used refectory. Also, the church gives out essential items such as toiletries and underwear.
The service runs in addition to groups such as Care Dewsbury, which offers food and other help twice a week.
At the Minster, though, more and more people are asking for food parcels and it’s here where donations will really help.
Mr Partington sees problems looming when benefits are paid monthly as from January.
“I can see some people having a beano the first week and then nothing for the rest of the month,” he said. “And for people with a dependency, food won’t be a priority – it will be cheap booze.”
The Minster often feeds more than 70 people in the six days it operates.
“As with most organisations, donations are going down as people tighten their belts,” said Mr Partington. “We are not on our own here. There is no doubt numbers will continue to rise. The need is there. For us, it is ongoing, unsung ministry. It is part of who we are, but it is challenging.”
Mr Partington hopes the harvest season will boost donations of produce and other items.
Chickenley Community School recently donated several cases of tins, packets and jars of food after holding a non uniform day in aid of the scheme.
Anyone else who can help should phone 01924 457057.