Food banks call for more support after reporting busiest month ever during corona crisis

(Photo: The Trussell Trust)

A national food bank network is calling on the Government to ensure low income families have enough to live on after record numbers needed emergency food parcels to get through the pandemic. 

The Trussell Trust, which runs 1,200 food banks with the help of thousands of churches, saw an 89% increase in the number of emergency food parcels given to people across the UK in April 2020 compared with the same period last year. 

The number of families with children receiving parcels increased by 95% compared to April 2019, the charity said. 

Nearly half (48%) of those turning to food banks said it was because of a fall in income from work or benefits, while around one in ten (11%) said it was due to sickness. 

The Trussell Trust is part of a coalition of charities calling on the Government to provide adequate funding to local authorities so that families in difficulty can survive the pandemic as temporary support schemes are scaled back in the coming months. 

The coalition, which also includes The Children's Society, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group, fears that families will fall into further hardship once schemes like Coronavirus Jobs Retention and Self-Employment Income Support are wound down post-lockdown. 

The charities say the first step to supporting low income families through the crisis is to ensure that local authorities have enough money to provide emergency cash grants that can put funds directly into people's pockets quickly.

Chief executive of the Trussell Trust Emma Revie said: "We have been seeing rises in food bank need for the past five years but this 89% increase - with the number of families coming to food banks doubling - is completely unprecedented and not right. People need to be able to put food on their table.

"The Government must put urgent support in place to ensure people already struggling to keep their heads above water can stay afloat.

"We have outlined what we need our government to do - it's in our power to protect one another, we've seen it during this health crisis, and we need it to continue during this economic one."

The Children's Society said more needed to be done to support children after its research found that over half of councils (63%) were forced to reduce spending on local welfare schemes between 2015 and 2019. 

Children's Society Chief Executive Mark Russell said: "It's a tragedy that double the number of families are having to rely on foodbanks to feed their children, and a situation which could be prevented with more action to stop children from going hungry.

"The Children's Society wants to see significant extra investment in local welfare assistance so councils can provide much needed emergency support. 

"No child should face destitution as a result of this pandemic. The Government must step up and protect vulnerable children and families."