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We can’t end hunger without knowing its scale

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Until you understand the true magnitude of a problem, you cannot effectively solve it. That’s why this week, as part of End Hunger UK, a coalition of organisations trying to eliminate hunger, we released figures on the scale of hidden hunger in this country. The findings are shocking. Over 1 in 10 adults are skipping meals because of lack of money. When you look at parents with children aged 18 and under, that rises to 1 in 4.

To anyone who has spent any time in a foodbank, however, these findings will not be a surprise. What is happening up and down the country is mirrored in our network of over 400 foodbanks.

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Dave Magill, Area Manager for Northern Ireland reflects on the ‘reality of foodbanks’

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I’ve now worked for Trussell Trust for 7 months. I had another of what I think of as my ‘reality of foodbank’ moments today.

We were in a meeting with someone who wanted information about how a Trussell Trust foodbank works. As we explained the model that we use, causes of food poverty and talked through some statistics of foodbank use in Northern Ireland and the wider UK network, I was again experiencing the contrast of feeling that comes with this job.

Working with foodbanks is simultaneously saddening, infuriating, uplifting and inspiring. Working with people of such passion and commitment to serving and helping those in crisis in their community is humbling and challenging. Engaging with the causes and reality of food poverty in 21st century Northern Ireland is shocking and crushing.

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Foodbanks in 2017: Change is Possible

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Read the new report Emergency Use Only II 

Three years ago, CPAG and the Trussell Trust were among the organisations who published Emergency Use Only, one of the first pieces of research to shed light on the drivers of the enormous increases in food bank use that we have seen this decade. We found that the immediate trigger for food bank use was all-too-often caused by the benefit system – through delays, errors, and sanctions – that prompted an acute income crisis, leaving households with little or no income. Turning to a food bank was often an action of last resort, once people’s other avenues of support had been exhausted.

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We welcomed changes in the Budget but now is not a time for celebration

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“I lost my job in October and have been relying on money from friends and family to survive, but that is no longer possible.  I haven’t eaten for five days and will not get Universal Credit for six weeks, so went to the council in desperation – they gave me a foodbank voucher.  Thank you to the foodbank.”

This is just one of the many stories gathered by Trussell Trust foodbank volunteers and staff that we passed on to the Work & Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Universal Credit, publicised through press and social media, and I’ve had the opportunity to share directly with people at all levels of DWP ahead of the 2017 Budget.

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Guest blog: We should stop debating and start solving increasing foodbank use

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UCL has always led on issues of significance to the nutritional health of the nation. Dr Jack Drummond, the first Professor of Biochemistry at UCL and former Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, was the wartime Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Food, which introduced food-rationing on the basis of his “sound nutritional principles”. It was essential work because a 1936 survey had suggested that half of the British population could not afford an adequate diet. Food poverty is a major public health concern again. One of its most visible symptoms is the number of people attending Foodbanks to receive emergency food aid. The Trussell Trust has reported that in the first 6 months of this year, referrals were up by 13% to 587,000 people, including 209,000 children.

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If Universal Credit rollout continues like this, foodbanks won’t be able to catch everyone who falls

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Last year The Trussell Trust provided 1.2 million emergency three day emergency food supplies. We recently released the biggest study into foodbank use in Britain to date. We found that the majority of people referred to our foodbanks were at the time supported by working age benefits. Yet the average income for households was just £319 in the month before they were referred to us.

It’s no surprise that trying to live off so little for an entire month can lead to destitution and hunger. Most households had been unable to afford heating, toiletries or suitable shoes or clothes for the weather. 78% had skipped meals and gone without eating – sometimes for days at a time, often multiple times a year.

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My experience of a university placement at Bournemouth Foodbank

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Initially, I was apprehensive; this was the first time I could put into practice what I have been taught during the last 2 years at university. However, there was no need to be nervous as the food bank team at Bournemouth were incredibly welcoming and made me feel at home.

Bournemouth Foodbank and The Trussell Trust are carrying out fantastic work in providing nutrition to those in crisis. I have been amazed at how generous the public are in donating their time to volunteer at the foodbank, but also the volume of those donating food.

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Why is there a food collection outside parliament today?

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“If it wasn’t for the foodbank, I don’t know what I’d do. I had to choose between feeding my children and starving myself, or eating.”

That’s what one mum in Bradford said to a volunteer at one of the 420 foodbanks that make up The Trussell Trust’s network. Multiply that by many thousands and you have a picture of the incredibly difficult decisions families across the UK face as Christmas approaches. Last December we gave out 60,000 three-day emergency food parcels to children alone, and foodbanks are poised to help even more people this year.

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Neighbourhood Food Collection Christmas 2016

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Running a food bank has opened my eyes to why people are without food.

Our focus has been on providing three days emergency food for people in a crisis. After a couple of years, I thought I knew about every scenario. But I often talk to people who are in a situation we’ve never come across before.

Week in, week out there are different people in Watford who do not have enough money for food. Some are affected by illness, by job losses or by homelessness. Others by simply not having any money because an emergency has left them short.

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Giving thanks this Giving Tuesday

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We think you, our supporters are incredible! The compassion, kindness and generosity you show is truly humbling. Every day, there are more people like you joining the fight against UK hunger; an ever growing community working to transform lives all over the UK.

Every donation you give, no matter the size, is gratefully received. We know that you understand the pain of people whose cupboards are bare and have no means of buying more food. Your compassion is heart-warming and hugely appreciated.

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