Emergency food parcels reach record levels

(Photo: The Trussell Trust)

The Trussell Trust has given out record numbers of emergency food parcels to people in hardship in the last 12 months.

Almost three million parcels were given out between April 2022 and March 2023, with a million of them for children.

This is double the amount distributed by the Christian charity in the same period five years ago and a 37% increase on the previous year. 

Some 760,000 people were new users of the service, up 38% from the previous year. 

Emma Revie, Chief Executive at the Trussell Trust, said that current social security payments were pushing people deeper into hardship because they "do not reflect life's essential costs".

"These new statistics are extremely concerning and show that an increasing number of people are being left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by and this is not right," she said.

"The continued increase in parcel numbers over the last five years indicates that it is ongoing low levels of income and a social security system that isn't fit for purpose that are forcing more people to need food banks, rather than just the recent cost of living crisis or the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Food banks were set up to provide short-term support to people in an emergency, they are not a lasting solution to hunger and poverty, and more than three quarters of the UK population agree with us that they should not need to exist." 

The Trussell Trust said that demand had spiked during the winter months, particularly in December.

Brian Thomas, Chief Executive at South Tyneside Foodbank, said he had seen an unprecedented rise in people coming to the food bank, especially among working people whose incomes are not enough to cover rising living costs. 

"We're also seeing a really high number of families needing support as people struggle to afford the essentials. Food donation levels are not keeping up with the significant increase in need and this is putting us under a lot of strain, it's a real pressure cooker situation for food banks," he said.