THE Trussell Trust network distributed 1.5 million food parcels between April and September — more than ever before in the same period, and 16 per cent more than last year.
Of these, 65 per cent went to families with children: 540,000 food parcels for more than 265,000 children living in families who could not afford the essentials. This represented an 11-per-cent rise on 2022.
The Christian charity, which published the figures on Wednesday, warned that low incomes, debt, health conditions, and issues with social-security payments, such as delays or sanctions, were the main reasons that people had been left with no other option but to turn to foodbanks.
It also reported that, in the past six months, 320,000 of the people who used a foodbank had done so for the first time. Foodbanks were at “breaking point”, the Trust said. It forecast that it would distribute more than one million emergency food parcels between December and February: the equivalent of providing a parcel every eight seconds this winter.
The deputy chief executive of Eastbourne Foodbank, Jess Holliday, said: “Our donations are down even as need remains very high. We are deeply concerned about the alarming rise in the number of children needing our support. Last month, 633 of the food parcels we provided were for children.
“Day after day, people tell us they simply don’t have enough money to buy the basics. A client told me, ‘I have sold my car. I have sold everything and cut everything out. But that’s still not enough. All I want is enough money to pay the basic bills and have some left to buy my own food.’”
The chief executive of the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie, said: “A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a foodbank in every community. This is not right.”
The Trust is encouraging people to sign its petition urging party leaders to support an Essentials Guarantee. “The UK Government must build on its work to protect people from increasingly severe hardship, and commit to putting an Essentials Guarantee into legislation, to embed in our social security system the widely supported principle that, at a minimum, Universal Credit should protect people from going without essentials,” Ms Revie said.
“We recognise this change cannot happen overnight, which is why we are also calling on the Government to urgently confirm in the Autumn Statement that benefits will rise in line with inflation next April, and to reduce the burden of debt deductions which drive unacceptable levels of hardship.”