Food banks report busiest month ever as number of users DOUBLES

Food banks report busiest month ever as number of families with children receiving emergency parcels DOUBLES in a year amid coronavirus lockdown

  • Food bank usage during the pandemic has rocketed, with children most affected
  • April was busiest month ever for Trussell Trust’s food banks with 89% increase
  • Almost twice as many families with children are now in need of packages
  • Independent Food Aid Network says soaring figures ‘completely unprecedented’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The number of families with children receiving emergency food parcels in the UK has almost doubled in a year, food banks report.

April was the busiest month ever for Trussell Trust’s food banks, with an 89% increase in emergency food parcels delivered across the UK compared with the same month in 2019.

An average of 700 parcels were handed out at each of their food banks in April 2020, compared with 369 in April 2019, the Trussell Trust said.

And the number of parcels provided for children has more than doubled, while almost twice as many families with children are receiving them (a 95% rise).

Food bank usage has rocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with ‘unprecedented’ levels of usage reported by the providers

The figures are taken from responses from 351 of the 425 food bank charities in the Trussell Trust network.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), which represents over 346 independent food banks, has reported a 175% increase in need over the same period.

They have called the soaring demand during the coronavirus pandemic ‘completely unprecedented’.

One food bank was last week seen to be taking the extreme measures of dishing out more than 15,000 free meals a week to struggling families during lockdown – using food thrown out by supermarkets.

Around 320,000 of emergency food parcels are being issued to people in low paid work, who are just not earning enough to make ends meet

The North West has the highest number of food banks in the UK with 222,722 currently open – and this could still rise if current predictions are true

A coalition of charities is calling for the Government to provide more funding for councils so they can quickly get cash to families through a temporary emergency income support scheme.

They include the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Children’s Society, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), StepChange and Turn2us.

They are worried that when Government support such as the job retention scheme starts to wind down, families will fall into poverty.

As part of the proposed scheme, benefits for families with children would increase, the benefit cap would be lifted and no deductions would be taken from advance payments.

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.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), which represents over 346 independent food banks, has reported a 175% increase in need over the past year

‘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.’

IFAN coordinator Sabine Goodwin said: ‘Our food bank figures paint a grim picture of what is unfolding across the UK and the numbers of people having to resort to emergency food parcels to survive.

‘But the solution to the escalating food insecurity crisis has never been the provision of charitable food aid. Everyone needs to be able to afford to buy food and the bare essentials.

‘Our joint call details how this can start to be achieved and we urge the Government to act swiftly and decisively to reverse this devastating trend.’

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham added: ‘Struggle is turning to real hardship.

‘The Government has quickly put in place unprecedented and very welcome schemes to support family finances in the wake of Covid-19, but too many households are falling through the gaps.’

More than half a million food parcels given out by The Trussell Trust in 2018 went to children. Of these, nearly 90,000 were handed out in the school holidays, and there are fears that number could rise even higher this summer

A Government spokesman said: ‘We understand that this is a difficult time for people on low incomes and we’ve taken significant action to support those affected by coronavirus, including through income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.

‘For those most in need we’ve injected more than £6.5 billion into the welfare system, which includes an increase to Universal Credit of up to £1,040 a year.

‘No one has to wait five weeks for money as urgent payments are available, while some people may be eligible for a nine-month grace period where their income is not capped.’

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