Food bank usage soars to record levels

More people than ever are relying on food banks to feed themselves, according to new figures from the Trussell Trust.

The charity gave out over 820,000 emergency three-day food parcels in the six months between April and September, a 23% increase on the previous year and up from the 492,000 parcels handed out in the same period in 2014. This makes it the busiest half-year period for food bank usage since the charity opened.

Low income, benefit delay, benefit change and debt were the top four reasons for referral to a food bank in the Trussell Trust’s network of over 1,200 food bank centres. On average people needed around two food bank referrals in the last year.

“This is the busiest six months we’ve ever seen – more people than ever are being forced to food banks’ doors,” said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.

“This general election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics,” she added.

The charity is calling on the next government to ensure everyone has sufficient money for food by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit, ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living, and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.

The figures do not include the hundreds of independent food banks not run by the Trussell Trust. A recent research project carried out by the Independent Food Aid Network and A Menu for Change found that between April 2018 and March 2019, at least 159,849 emergency food parcels were given out by 84 independent food banks in Scotland.

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