Charity reports distributing 3.1 million food bank parcels in a single year

Charity Records 3.1 Million Emergency Food Parcels Distributed in One Year

According to the Trussell Trust, a record-breaking 3.1 million emergency food parcels were distributed within a year through their network of 1,300 food banks. This number includes 1,144,096 parcels for children and nearly two million for adults. The total is nearly double the amount from five years ago.

The latest updates from the Money blog at Sky News reported that during the 12-month period ending in March 2023, the number of food parcels distributed was just under three million. While the number of first-time users this year has slightly decreased, there has still been a 40% increase compared to five years ago. Additionally, the number of food parcels given to individuals of state pension age has risen by 27% to 179,000, according to the trust. This increase in demand is being seen in food banks across the country, including in Leeds, where volunteers are witnessing a rise in older individuals seeking food support.

Wendy Doyle, operations manager at Leeds South and East Foodbank, stated that their volunteers have reported dealing with pensioners who cannot afford to put food on the table due to higher energy costs. Val McKie, who previously used food banks after facing financial struggles following her husband’s death and a decrease in work opportunities, expressed her shame at being in such a situation. She believes that the rising need for food support is “a stain on our society” and that many people who require food bank assistance feel similar feelings of shame and embarrassment.

The Trussell Trust is calling on politicians to support a “supportive social security system” for parents, carers, and individuals with disabilities who are facing increased living costs. The trust’s chief executive, Emma Revie, stated that the UK is currently experiencing historically high levels of food bank need. She added, “As a society, we cannot allow this to continue. We must not let food banks become the new norm.” As the UK approaches its next general election, Revie is urging all political leaders to outline their plans for creating a future where food banks are not necessary for survival.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a social change group, has also joined the call for change. Iain Porter, a senior policy adviser at JRF, stated that the latest record-breaking figures highlight the painful economic reality faced by families with the least resources. He emphasized that this issue cannot be ignored by any political party in this election year. The JRF is advocating for a protected minimum amount of financial support that would enable individuals to afford essential items.

Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary for Labour, Alison McGovern, reacted to the “dreadful” figures by stating that they reveal the harsh reality facing households in the UK after 14 years of “Tory misery.” She added that Labour is committed to addressing the root causes of poverty, including building more affordable housing, protecting renters, and providing breakfast clubs in every primary school.

In response to the report, the government stated that its cost-of-living support package has prevented 1.3 million people from falling into poverty in 2022-23. It also highlighted its efforts in raising the National Living Wage, cutting taxes, and reducing inflation while investing billions through its Back to Work Plan.

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