The Trussell Trust is calling for politicians to protect people from hunger after revealing the “steepest rise yet” in the number of emergency food parcels they gave out over the summer.
A total of 823,145 three-day parcels were given out to vulnerable families between April and September this year with 301,653 going to children.
That represents a 23 per cent rise over the same period in 2018 – the sharpest increase that the charity has seen in the past five years.
Benefits were the main reason why people needed emergency food parcels with 36 per cent of people citing low benefit income, 18 per cent blaming delays in receiving benefits while 16 per cent pointed the finger at changes in their benefits.
More people than ever before need #foodbanks. 820,000 emergency food parcels were provided by #foodbanks in our network over the past six months. Enough is enough. We know #ThisCanChange > pic.twitter.com/iKaxBpEhC3
— The Trussell Trust (@TrussellTrust) November 13, 2019
The Trussell Trust’s CEO Emma Revie has been making it clear that the benefits system has been driving a rise in foodbank use in recent times – the charity released their State of Hunger 2019 report just last week.
With the general election on the horizon, Revie is leading the calls for politicians of all parties to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit, ensure benefit payments cover the cost of living and invest in local emergency support for people in crisis.
“This is the busiest six months we’ve ever seen – more people than ever before are being forced to foodbanks’ doors,” said Revie. “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.
“This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed – our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty. We need to put money back into the pockets of people who most need our support. It’s in our power as a country to end the need for foodbanks. This can change.”
There are currently around 2,000 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
As well as reforming the benefits system, the Sustain food and farming alliance is also calling for the food system to undergo change post-election.
Their Manifesto for a Better Food Britain is calling on politicians to support sustainable farming, minimise the impact of Brexit on farmers as well as guaranteeing everyone’s right to food and ending hunger.
Sustain’s chief executive Kath Dalmeny said: “The staggering increase in foodbank use reported today by the Trussell Trust is profoundly shocking. Behind every emergency food parcel there is a story of food insecurity and personal crisis, directly affecting people’s health and well-being.
“We want government and local authorities to step up to their responsibilities to ensure everyone can enjoy their right to food – taking systematic action to increase incomes and reduce household bills, provide decent meals on wheels and free school dinners, guaranteeing that everyone has the ability to buy or access the food they need.
“In a modern society, there is no reason why people should have to go to bed hungry, fearful for where their next meal is coming from.”
The Big Issue spent the summer investigating holiday hunger and the drivers behind it. Head here to catch up with our campaign.