The Trussell Trust has seen a staggering increase in the number of food parcels distributed over the last five years.
Food banks in the food charity network provided more than 2.1 million emergency food parcels between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. Of these, 832,000 were for children. This represents an 81% increase compared to the same period five years ago.
The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of more than 1,300 food bank centres.
Food banks under pressure
In a blog post on NPC’s website, Grace Wyld, a member of the policy research team at the Trussell Trust, wrote that food banks around the country are under increased pressure as the cost-of-living crisis bites hard.
She said: “In recent weeks we have been encouraged by politicians to cut back on luxuries and shop around for cheaper supermarket staples. But for people already struggling to afford the essentials, there is simply nothing left to cut and food banks across the UK are picking up the pieces.”
Wyld said that people referred to food banks in the charity’s network have on average “just £57 a week to live on after housing costs”.
“While charities will do everything they can to support people facing financial hardship, they cannot and should not be expected to pick up the pieces for the UK government and an increasingly threadbare social security system,” she added.
Citizens Advice Merthyr Tydfil: requests for food bank vouchers up 500%
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Gerald Jones, a Welsh shadow minister, said that requests for food bank vouchers and other charitable support in his constituency have increased by “more than 500%”.
He said: “My local food banks operate in challenging times and, on a number of occasions recently, have come close to running out of food, given the huge demand.”
His comments followed a meeting with Citizens Advice Merthyr Tydfil, a charity that provides advice and campaign on big issues affecting people’s lives.
According to the charity’s case management system, 104 food bank vouchers were issued in Merthyr and surrounding areas between October 2020 and March 2021. This compares with 669 between October 2021 and March 2022. The number of charitable support issues, which include the Discretionary Assistance Fund, baby banks, food pantries and help from churches, rose from 71 to 256.
The power of data
NPC has created an interactive databank that helps charities and funders better understand communities’ needs around the country.
Wyld said this data can be used to better understand “the changing picture of inequality across the UK”.
She wrote in the blog post: “The Trussell Trust’s mission is to end the need for food banks in the UK, and the stats being added to NPC’s databank are a sobering reminder of just how steep a hill there is to climb.
“However, it is also through data that we can better equip ourselves, food banks, organisers, and campaigners - many of whom have their own experience of turning to a food bank in a time of crisis - to meet the challenges we face. Through open data and innovative tools like the local needs databank, we can gain a greater understanding of where needs are most acute across the UK and what we need to do to achieve our mission. We aren’t going to end the need for food banks through data alone, but we certainly can’t get there without it.”