Food banks may not be front and centre of the general election campaign, but the emergency aid providers have not disappeared.
In fact, the extent of food bank use in the UK today is bigger than previously thought, according to a new report.
A mapping exercise by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) found that there are now more than 2,024 food banks in operation across the nation.
Although most of those are run by the well-established Trussell Trust network, there are 651 independent grassroots organisations providing regular food parcels for families in need – groups hidden from previous estimates.
The spread of food banks maps growing problems of poverty across the UK
“There are now food banks in almost every community, from the East End of London to the Cotswolds, said Ifan chairman Jon May, of Queen Mary University of London.
“The spread of food banks maps growing problems of poverty across the UK, but also the growing drive among many thousands of people across the country to try and do something about those problems.”
The Independent Food Aid Network will now try to map all food aid providers that aren’t categorized as food banks, including churches and small welfare charities.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Ifan organizers said they would “like to see national monitoring of household food insecurity as part of an effort to stop the normalisation of emergency food aid provision within the UK.”
The latest figures from the Trussell Trust show the charity provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency supplies over the past year – around 73,000 packages more than the previous year.
If you represent an independent food bank or an informal, food bank-style project that’s not been contacted by researchers before, please contact Sabine Goodwin at email@example.com