A charity which distributes food parcels to homeless and deprived families around the Bradford district hopes to attract more support at an open meeting.

The Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank wants representatives from businesses and community organisations to attend, find out more about the service, and get involved in donating food or distributing it.

The food bank has been running as a charity for the past year. It was the brainchild of Lashman Singh, who launched the Bradford Curry Project 15 years ago.

While the Curry Project serves hot meals to the homeless on a drop-in basis, Mr Singh was keen to set up a district-wide service reaching a wider number of people.

The food bank distributes food donations to families and individuals via organisations working in communities where there is need.

Secretary Helen Bradshaw said next week's annual general meeting was the first opportunity for the food bank to invite all parties involved with donating and distributing food.

"We rely mainly on churches, schools and businesses for regular donations," she said. "Over the last year we've had 10 tonnes of food delivered from various businesses. Some of it was end-of-the-line stock that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. We're seeking help from other businesses with that kind of stock to get rid of.

"Our AGM is an open meeting for anyone wanting to get involved or find out more. We will be discussing the food bank's progress and how it can be developed."

Food donations are stored at a base in Barkerend.

Distributors include community organisations working with families and young people, tackling drug and alcohol misuse and mental health issues, and hostels housing women and children fleeing domestic violence.

"We are keen to hear from organisations who know where help is needed in their community," said Mrs Bradshaw.

"The distributors apply for food parcels, although we're making this easier by giving our regulars bulk supplies so they have a constant stock.

"This is a busy time of year because post-Christmas bills are coming in, which hits families hard. Many are in debt, there is more money going out than coming in. Drug and alcohol addiction is also a factor, and people have problems with benefits which they can't always resolve quickly.

"There has been a steady rise in demand , and we've had increasing requests from organisations working with asylum seekers."

The food bank has distributed more than 340 food parcels over the past year. Each parcel contains items such as coffee, tea, vegetables, pasta, meat, fish, pulses, cereal and tinned goods.

"We accommodate needs, such as vegetarian or halal," said Mrs Bradshaw.

"We have many requests for baby food.

"The food bank is still quite a new concept. We're the only organisation in Bradford providing this service. There are drop-in places serving food, but they only reach a minority and they're not suitable for families.

"There are many individuals and families whose health could be improved by the provision of regular food."

The Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank's annual general meeting is at Bradford Interfaith Education Centre, Listerhills Road, Bradford, on Wednesday at 7.30pm. For more information ring (01274) 521028.