Record 2.5 million food parcels distributed last year

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Record 2.5 million emergency food parcels given to people across UK with just under 1m going to children – that’s two parcels every minute.

The Trussell Trust is urgently calling on all levels of government across the UK to commit to developing a plan to end the need for food banks once and for all.

Today, the Trussell Trust reports that food banks in its UK network gave more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people facing crisis between April 2020 and March 2021. More than 980,000 of these went to children– that’s almost two parcels on average every minute. Food banks in its network experienced a 33% increase in need during the past extraordinarily difficult year – with a 36% rise in parcels given for children compared with 2019/20. 

The charity warns that with need for emergency food increasing year-on-year, today’s figures highlight an alarming 128% rise compared to this time five years ago.It is also the first time the number of food parcels distributed has topped two million. 

Worryingly, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups that sprang up to provide emergency food during the pandemic.  

Hunger in the UK isn’t about food, the charity says, it’s about people not having enough money for the basics and with high rates of unemployment and record redundancies, more people than ever need the social security system to provide a strong enough lifeline to stay afloat.  

The Trussell Trust is now urgently calling on all levels of government to act. It’s urging candidates standing in the upcoming May elections across England, Scotland, and Wales to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected. 

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:  

No one should face the indignity of needing emergency foodYet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials. This is not right but we know we can build a better future. This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.  

We are asking you, the public, to write to your local candidates standing for election on 6 May, asking them to commit to working to end the need for food banks if elected. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future. 

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: 

“Independent food banks are also continuing to see relentless need for help although combined Trussell Trust and independent food bank figures represent a fraction of the UK’s food insecurity picture. Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured.  

It’s the Government’s responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials.” 

The Trussell Trust is asking the public to encourage candidates to make this pledge and stand for change here.  



Contact the Trussell Trust for more information on 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]     


Notes to editors   

Number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in 2019/20 and 2020/21 

  1st April 2019 – 31st March 2020  1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021  Percentage change 
  To adults  To children  Total  To adults  To children  Total  To adults  To children  Total 
United Kingdom  1,183,672  722,953  1,906,625  1,557,116  980,082  2,537,198  32%  36%  33% 


  • In 2020/21 these parcels were distributed by 1,471 distribution centres operating in 295 local authorities across the UK 
  • The increases seen in the last year are on top of what were record levels of need in the previous year – with 1.9 million parcels distributed for the first time in 2019/20. 
  • Across 2020/21 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed, on average, almost two (1.86) parcels to children every minute.  
  • Across 2015/16 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed 1,112,395 emergency food parcels. In 2020/21 they distributed 2,537,198; a 128% increase on 2015/16.  
  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: this typically is a three-day parcel containing emergency food for one person. During the crisis food banks have also been distributing seven-day parcels. For this release the Trussell Trust have simply combined both three-day and seven-day parcels together to report the total number of emergency food parcels that were distributed. 
  • Need for emergency food is driven by a lack of income. The Trussell Trust’s State of Hunger research shows that 94% of people referred to food banks are destitute, meaning they don’t have enough income to buy the essentials that we all need. State of Hunger 
  • Figures from the Trussell Trust network cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use across the UK. Research from the Independent Food Aid Network shows there are at least 1,034 independent food banks, with many other organisations also distributing emergency food during the pandemic. 
  • For November 2020 to January 2021 the unemployment rate for those aged 16+ was 5%, up from 3.9% in the previous year. Labour Market Overview 
  • Redundancies have reached record levels during the pandemic and increased by a historic 181,000 between Q2 2020 and Q3 2020, a 138% increaseLabour Market Overview 


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 1,300 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 here.
  • The Trussell Trust’s food bank network brings together volunteers, staff and supporters of all faiths and none to make a difference. Local churches play a vital part in this work, with around 12,000 churches actively involved in donating food, and providing venues, volunteers and financial support for food banks.    
  • You can read more about our work at