Food banks bracing for the worst winter yet

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A volunteer sorts through a crate of food donations. There are additional crates of food in the background.

The Trussell Trust forecasts that more than 600,000 people will need the support of its food banks over a three-month period.

Food banks across the Trussell Trust network are expecting to provide more than one million emergency food parcels between December 2023 and February 2024 – the most parcels ever provided across this period. This equates to an average of one food parcel every eight seconds (11,500 a day) and 7,000 people seeking support each day.

Between December and February last year, these food banks supported more than 220,000 children with emergency food, and 225,000 people who needed to use a food bank for the first time but it is anticipated these numbers will be even higher this year.

Food banks are calling on people in their local communities to donate, if they can, to ensure that they can continue to support everyone who needs their help.

While donations levels have remained stable compared to last year, the continued increase in need is leading to the vast majority of food banks having to purchase stock to make up for this shortfall. A recent survey of 282 food banks indicated that in the last three months 93% had to purchase food, at a time when prices are higher than ever, in order to keep up with the rising levels of need. These pressures have also led to one in three (32%) food banks reporting that they are concerned about being able to continue running at their current level in the coming months.

Despite these challenges, food banks in the Trussell Trust network are committed to doing all they can to help people in these challenging times but are having to adapt their operations in new ways in order to meet this challenge.

Natasha Copus, Project Manager at Southend Foodbank, said:

“Our foodbank distribution centres have seen unprecedented need in our community. We are committed to being there for the most vulnerable in our society and to providing three days of food.

“We have had to buy around half of the food we give out already this year and that is not even with the added pressure of heating and energy that people will face this winter. It is with trepidation that we face the next six months of being there for people. We ask our community for their financial support, food, and prayer this winter.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said:

“We don’t want to spend every winter saying things at food banks are getting worse, but they are. Food banks are not the answer in the long term, but while we continue to fight for the change that could mean they can be closed for good your local food bank urgently needs your support.

“They need donations of food for emergency parcels, and money to fund costs such as the purchasing of food to meet the shortfall in donations they are currently experiencing.

“One in seven people in the UK face hunger because they don’t have enough money to live on. That’s not the kind of society we want to live in, and we won’t stand by and let this continue. Every year we are seeing more and more people needing food banks, and that is just not right.

“Together, we have roots into hundreds of communities, and while someone facing hunger can’t change the structural issues driving the need for food banks on their own, thousands of us coming together can. We must end hunger across the UK so that no one needs a food bank to survive.”

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Notes to editors

  • The Trussell Trust have estimated the number of parcels that they will distribute over the winter months by looking at the average increase in need seen from April – mid September 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
  • This increase was applied to the number of parcels that were previously distributed in December 2022 to the end of February 2023. In this period food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed 904,000 emergency food parcels.
  • Food banks in the Trussell Trust network were surveyed between late July and Mid-August. 282 food banks took part in the survey representing 67% of food banks in the Trussell Trust network.