Food banks are being driven to “breaking point” with almost 1.3 million emergency parcels given to people in just over six months, a leading charity has said.
Almost half a million of the food parcels given out went to children.
The Trussell Trust issued a stark warning after new research showed record-breaking levels of need, with 320,000 being forced to turn to food banks for the first time in the last six months.
According to figures from the charity, which provides urgent support to those in poverty, more emergency food parcels were given out during the April to September period than ever before.
The amount of food packages given out is double the number provided in the same timeframe before the pandemic and a third more than were given out between April and September last year.
One in five people being referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust network are from working households.
The Trussell Trust’s State of Hunger research found 95% of people referred to food banks are destitute – meaning they don’t have enough income to buy the essentials that we all need.
The trust has warned food banks are now at “breaking point” due to a “tsunami of need” driven by the cost of living crisis as it called on the government to provide adequate support in its upcoming autumn statement.
Volunteers are set for their busiest winter yet, as the level of need outstrips donations.
Buying milk now ‘a luxury’
Josie Barlow, manager at Bradford food bank, said one user told her “buying milk is a luxury now”.
“We are fortunate to be able to help people and we work hard to support them in both the short and long term, but we are also facing challenges,” she said.
“We have seen a huge increase in people coming to the food bank in the last two months compared with the same period last year and our stock levels are very low for this time of the year.”
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “These new statistics show that, even in summer months, people are struggling to afford the essentials and we are expecting that this winter will be the hardest yet for food banks and the people they support. This is not right.”
She added: “We are calling for the prime minister to act decisively in next week’s budget. We urge the UK government to realise their commitment of supporting people on the lowest income with a broad package of support.
“As well as ensuring that benefits rise with inflation as soon as possible, this must go further to close the gap between price rises and incomes over the winter.”
Package of support for low income households
A government spokesman highlighted the recent £324 cost of living payment being sent to low-income households – part of a £1,200 package of support.
They added: “Our extensive immediate support for families also includes our energy price guarantee, saving around £700 for a typical household over winter, and our household support fund, worth over £1 billion to help people with essential costs, combined with longer-term changes such as altering Universal Credit to help people keep £1,000 more of what they earn every year.”