Northern Ireland food banks fear for busiest summer ever

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 8% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Northern Ireland last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 1,758 food parcels went to children in Northern Ireland during the two months of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 7.7% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all food distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of rising food bank use in Northern Ireland. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 13% total increase, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next two months, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at food banks in the charity’s network.

Dave Magill, Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Northern Ireland over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. We know Northern Ireland is already on a cliff-edge with less than a year to go before we see the extra protections currently available to people under our benefits system come to an end. We have real concerns that unless these protections are preserved, families will continue to struggle not just during the school holidays but all year round.

“If we are to end hunger in Northern Ireland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether. Food banks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger.”

Ends

Contact:

Contact The Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or press@trusselltrust.org

Notes to Editor

There are 38 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland.

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in the UK
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Northern Ireland Adults 2,524 2,743 8.7%
Children 1,632 1,758 7.7%
Total 4,156 4,501 8.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays