Advertisement
Social Justice

Food banks face ‘tsunami of need’ as record number of people seek help

Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have given out 1.3 million emergency food parcels over the last six months – more than ever before

A record 320,000 people have needed help from Trussell Trust food banks over the last six months, with demand outstripping supply for the first time ever.

The charity has been forced to launch an emergency appeal to ensure that food banks can meet the “alarming level” of need across the country. 

A total of 1.3 million food parcels were given out during April to September this year – more than ever before. Almost half a million of these went to children. 

It is a third more than were provided in the same period in 2021, and it’s an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

In the first half of this financial year alone, Trussell Trust food banks provided more parcels than in a full 12-month period five years ago, when 1.2 million emergency food parcels were distributed. 

The charity has said food banks are at “breaking point both physically and mentally” and they are set to face their hardest winter yet. They expect to provide an average of more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day in the next six months. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Josie Barlow, food bank manager at Bradford Foodbank, said: “Someone who came to the food bank recently told me that ‘buying milk is a luxury now’. So many people are struggling with bills and food prices.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

Support us

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.

One in five people referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust network are from working households, according to the charity. Food banks are supporting an increasing number of people who are working but still can’t afford the essentials – which is leading to food banks having to change their opening times so people can pick up food outside of working hours.

Barlow added: “We have seen a huge increase in people coming to the food bank in the last two months compared to the same period last year and our stock levels are very low for this time of the year.” 

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

The Trussell Trust is calling on the government to “act decisively” in next week’s budget. The government’s cost of living payments supplied targeted support to low-income people and correlated with a small dip in the need for food banks, but the charity warns that short-term interventions are not sustainable and cannot solve the long-term problems of people having to rely on food banks. 

Emma Revie, the chief executive of the Trussell Trust, has urged the government to ensure there is a “broad package of support” for people on the lowest incomes by uprating benefits in line with inflation and closing the gap between price rises and incomes this winter.

She said: “Over the last few years, the government has acted to protect people who are struggling, and this action has made a difference. They must now act again: with swift support now to help people through the winter, and with vision for the longer-term to ensure that social security is always enough to weather challenging times.”

Independent food banks are also seeing increased demand. According to the Independent Food Aid Network’s most recent data, 91 per cent of food banks have seen a rise in demand since July this year. 

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of IFAN, said: “It’s clearer than ever that a food bank response is not the answer and the government must ensure that people can afford food and other essentials through adequate incomes.” 

If you are in a position to donate, you can support the Trussell Trust’s Emergency Appeal Found now by donating vital funds to help the charity supporting food banks this winter.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

Advertisement

Every copy counts this Christmas

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.

Recommended for you

Read All
National protests to take place demanding government action on soaring energy bills
Cost of living crisis

National protests to take place demanding government action on soaring energy bills

What is a warm bank and why are they needed this winter?
Cost of living crisis

What is a warm bank and why are they needed this winter?

What is fuel poverty? The causes, statistics and solutions in the UK
Cost of living crisis

What is fuel poverty? The causes, statistics and solutions in the UK

Don't Pay UK: Why are people cancelling their energy bills?
Energy bills

Don't Pay UK: Why are people cancelling their energy bills?

Most Popular

Read All
Here's when and where nurses are going on strike
1.

Here's when and where nurses are going on strike

Pattie Boyd: 'I was with The Beatles and everything was fabulous'
2.

Pattie Boyd: 'I was with The Beatles and everything was fabulous'

Here's when people will get the additional cost of living payment
3.

Here's when people will get the additional cost of living payment

Why do people hate Matt Hancock? Oh, let us count the ways
4.

Why do people hate Matt Hancock? Oh, let us count the ways