More people than ever expected to need a food bank ahead of Christmas

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With Christmas only a few weeks away, the Trussell Trust is concerned new figures from December 2018, taken alongside the increase in food bank parcels needed so far this year, suggest more people than ever will need a food bank’s help.

Data released today shows December 2018 was the busiest month for food banks last year. 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to people in crisis; 78,536 of these went to children. This is 44% higher than the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year.*

Just weeks ago, the charity published figures for April – Sept 2019, showing that there has already been a 23% increase in the number of food parcels provided compared to the same period in 2018.

The new figures follow the recent publication of State of Hunger, the most in-depth study to date into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK. The research revealed:

  • The average weekly income of households at food banks is only £50 after paying rent
  • One in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food
  • 94% of people at food banks are destitute

State of Hunger shows there are three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health or challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.

The Trussell Trust is therefore encouraging the public to do two things ahead of this Christmas.

First, it’s asking the public to donate to their local food bank as soon as possible, to ensure vital help is there for people pulled into crisis by increased pressure from heating bills, food and other essentials during the lead up to Christmas. Volunteers will be stretched supporting more people than ever, so the earlier donations are made, the more time volunteers will have to distribute them to people referred.

Second, in the run up to the General Election, it’s asking the public to ask candidates on all sides to pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.

The charity says the next government can start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by:

  1. Ending the five week wait for Universal Credit
  2. Ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living
  3. Investing in local emergency support for people in crisis

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water. Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.

“We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year. There are two simple things you can do to make a real difference. First, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible. Then help us end the need for food banks for good, by asking all your local candidates up for election to pledge to protect people from hunger by making sure everyone has enough money for the basics.

“It’s not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year – not just at Christmas. Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank. It’s not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

 

Ends

 

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor:

* The monthly average for emergency food parcels provided by food banks within the Trussell Trust network for 2018 was 128,899.

The Trussell Trust’s statistics:

  • ‘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.
  • Between 1st December 2018 and 31st December 2018, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network provided 186,185 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 78,536 of these supplies went to children.
  • This is a 15% increase on the same one-month period in 2017, when 161,686 emergency supplies went to people in crisis; 66,771 of these went to children.
  • Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use across the UK, because figures relate to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network and not to the hundreds of independent food banks. There are more than 1,200 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network across the UK – research from the Independent Food Aid Network shows there are at least 817 independent food banks, so the Trussell Trust network accounts for roughly two-thirds of all food banks.
  • The Independent Food Aid Network and A Menu for Change recently published data on the number of emergency food parcels distributed by independent food banks in Scotland which almost doubles the scale shown by figures from the Trussell Trust network – more detail here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of more than 1,200 food bank centres across the UK.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps food banks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the front line to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty, and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for food banks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org