Five ways the cost of living crisis is impacting food banks

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The cost of living is leading to increased need and rising costs for food banks. Here are five ways that food banks are being impacted:

Increased need

The sharp rise in the cost of energy, food and other essentials, alongside the £20 cut to universal credit in October 2021, has meant that between April 2021 and March 2022, food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people facing financial hardship.

This is the first time since the height of the pandemic that food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have provided more than 2 million parcels.

As the cost of living continues to soar, food bank managers in our network are warning of an accelerated crisis across the UK, with more families being forced to the doors of food banks in need of emergency food.

One food bank manager commented: “The people who come in are telling me they’re scared. People are beside themselves about what the next six months will bring.”

Needing to purchase food

Our supporters continue to generously donate so our network can continue supporting people facing hardship, but these donations are not currently keeping pace with the increased need. This means that food banks are having to purchase food and other essentials to supplement what would usually be provided by donations. With the rising cost of food, this will place an increased financial toll on individual food banks.

“Due to the escalating need for emergency food parcels in our region, we have been spending up to £1,000 a week to buy food to make up for the shortfall in essential items for our food parcels. Whilst kind donations of food continue, in order to meet the increase in demand we will have to purchase even more and, with grocery prices spiralling, this is going to cost the food bank.” Lorraine Schulze, Project Manager Medway Foodbank

Find out how to donate to your local foodbank

Increased running costs

Food banks will also need to meet the rising costs of energy and fuel bills which keep warehouses, vehicles and distribution centres running.

“Our running costs to heat and light our warehouses and distribution centres have increased, along with fuel costs to run our vans used to deliver food parcels.” Kathleen Neilly, West Lothian Foodbank, General Manager

Need for cold food packs

As people feel the impact of the cost of living crisis and look to make savings, food banks are seeing an increase in need for ‘cold food packs.’ This is food that can be eaten without the need for high-energy and high-cost appliances.

“We are having more and more people come to us to say that although they have a cooker or fridge that they are not turning them on as they do not have the money for the meter and so are requesting items to eat that need no cooking at all.” Pete Criddle, Trustee and Volunteer Bradford North Foodbank

Extended opening hours

As everyone feels the squeeze of the cost of living crisis, more food banks are seeing an increase in people in work coming to their doors. Because of this, food banks are needing to change or extend their opening hours so people can pick up an emergency food parcel on their way to or from work.

“We have to open our food bank earlier in the day at 8am so working people can pick up their parcels on the way to work. Although we have a large proportion of people referred to us who are on benefits, we are seeing more and more people who are working, but whose wages have not increased in line with the rise in the cost of food, fuel and other items needed for a basic living standard.” Gill Fourie, Operational Manager Blackburn Foodbank

How you can help

Staff and volunteers at food banks are working tirelessly to support people in their communities as the price of essentials continues to soar and need for emergency food parcels and support increases. Donate to your local food bank now.