Welsh food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 14% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Wales last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 4,137 food parcels went to children in Wales during the six weeks of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 14% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network go 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 soaring food bank use in Wales. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year in Wales with a 15% total increase**, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up next 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 six weeks, 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 need at food banks in the charity’s network.

While the charity welcomes schemes by the Welsh Government to mitigate the adverse financial impact of the school holidays on families, it believes more action needs to be taken to address the underlying causes of poverty.

Susan Lloyd-Selby, Wales Operations Manager for the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Wales 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 additional 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. Wales has the highest child poverty rates in the UK and if we are to end hunger in Wales, 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.

“While it’s great to see the Welsh Government committing funding to tackle holiday hunger through their School Holiday Enrichment Programme, food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 111 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales.

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 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
Wales Adults 6,199 7,300 17.8%
Children 3,634 4,137 13.8%
Total 9,833 11,437 16.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the school summer holidays in Wales (July 22 – August 31)

**Figures from Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust network for 2018/19

Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales provided 113,373 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 40,793 of these supplies went to children.