The growing demand for emergency food has seen a food bank distribute the weight of three double-decker buses in food over the last two years.

Wimbledon food bank was set up by Elim Pentecostal Church, South Wimbledon to distribute food packages to the desperate in November 2011.

Since then, volunteers have fed 5,200 people from 17 wards with 45 tonnes of food.

Marcus Bennett, Wimbledon food bank chief and former pastor of Elim Pentecostal Church, said: "The problem is no-one has any savings anymore.

"They did before the recession but they don't now. Everyone is a pay check away from disaster."

Run by volunteers, the food bank is open twice a week to distrubute donations to people who have been issued crisis food vouchers by frontline organisations such as churches, schools, social services and housing associations.

Food bank clients bring their voucher to the centre in High Path, where it can be redeemed for three days of emergency food.

Volunteers are also on hand to chat to clients over a cup of tea and a biscuit and can direct them to agencies able to solve the longer-term problems.

Wimbledon Times: WIMB GREEN Food bank chief says "everyone is a paycheck away from disaster"

Wimbledon Times: WIMB GREEN Food bank chief says "everyone is a paycheck away from disaster"

Volunteers help distribute food

Mr Bennett said: "We see a lot of women whose husbands have lost their jobs, turned to the bottle and then turned on them.

"40 per cent of people are here from some problem with the benefits system.

"From our ten minutes with them it is hard to tell if it is a problem with the system or them missing a meeting. A lot of the time it's a bit of both."

Figures collected by Wimbledon food bank show the majority of people claiming food parcels are doing so because their benefits have been cut or delayed.

Domestic violence, homelessness, unemployment and debt are also common factors which have driven people to seek support from the centre.

Merton Council made its first donation to the Wimbledon food bank on March 24, with £10,000 awarded from the Local Welfare Support Scheme.

What's in the basket?

Wimbledon Times:

Food allocation for a family with 3+ children:

Cereal x 1 

Soup x 6

Beans/spaghetti in sauce x 6

Tomatoes/pasta sauce x 6

Vegetables x 5

Meat x 3 Or Vegetarian x 2

Fish x 5

Fruit x 3

Rice pudding/custard x 2

Sponge pudding x 2

Biscuits x 1 pack

Sugar 1kg+

Pasta 2kg

Instant mash x 2

Tea or coffee x 160 bags

Juice x 1 Milk

UHT/powder x 3 cartons/1 packet