Churches meeting growing demand for emergency food

More people in the UK are turning to church-run foodbanks to cope with the rising cost of living.

The Trussell Trust said 100,000 people had received emergency food from its network of foodbanks in the last six months.

New foodbanks are being opened by the Christian charity at a rate of three a week to meet the demand.

The network has fed almost 110,000 people across the UK since April 2012, compared to just under 129,000 people during the whole of the 2011 to 2012 financial period.

Trussell Trust is expecting to feed over 200,000 people by the end of the 2012 to 2013 period.

The increase in demand is being put down to rising food and fuel costs, together with static incomes, high unemployment and changes to benefits.

Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould said: "The Trussell Trust has seen first-hand the devastating impact of rising food prices on people in poverty.

"It means that the budgets of people on the breadline are stretched even further so that even a small change in financial circumstances can push people into a crisis where they cannot afford food.

"Day in, day out, foodbanks already meet UK parents who are going without food to feed their children, or are forced to consider stealing to stop their children going to bed hungry. Further rises in food and fuel bills could see even more people in crisis turn to foodbanks."

With winter just around the corner, the Trussell Trust said it feared more Britons would be so hard up that they cannot afford to eat.

Its concerns were raised on World Food Day, being held globally today to raise awareness of hunger and the need to reduce poverty.

To mark World Food Day, the Trussell Trust has launched a ‘Give it up for Foodbank’ campaign urging people to give up one luxury for a day or a week and donate the proceeds to help stop UK hunger.

It hopes World Food Day will help to raise the profile of the growing problem of food poverty in the UK and encourage more people to help their neighbours in need.

With energy providers announcing further increases to their prices, the Trussell Trust is encouraging churches to step in so that families on the breadline will not have to suffer a hungry Christmas.

"Many low-income working families are living on a knife edge. This rise in food prices could be enough to tip them into poverty, especially as winter approaches and heating costs increase. Christmas is looking bleak for thousands of UK families," said Mr Mould.

"The good news is that at a time of growing difficulty for people on low-incomes, churches and communities across the country are pulling out the stops to start new foodbanks and people are donating more food to help those in crisis on their doorsteps.

"We’re encouraging more churches to consider opening a foodbank in their town provide emergency food to local people in crisis. Our vision is to see a foodbank in every community, creating a nation where no-one has to go hungry."