TODAY, THE TRUSSELL TRUST REPORTS that food banks in its UK network gave more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people facing crisis between April 2020 and March 2021.

More than 980,000 of these went to children – that is almost two parcels on average every minute. Food banks in its network experienced a 33 per cent increase in need during the past extraordinarily difficult year – with a 36 per cent rise in parcels given for children compared with 2019/20.

The charity warns that with need for emergency food increasing year-on-year, today’s figures highlight an alarming 128 per cent rise compared to this time five years ago. It is also the first time the number of food parcels distributed has topped 2 million.

These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups that sprang up to provide emergency food during the pandemic.

Hunger in the UK isn’t about food, the charity says, it’s about people not having enough money for the basics and with high rates of unemployment and record redundancies, more people than ever need the social security system to provide a strong enough lifeline to stay afloat.

The Trussell Trust is now urgently calling on all levels of government to act. It’s urging candidates standing in the upcoming May elections across England, Scotland, and Wales to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food. Yet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials. This is not right but we know we can build a better future. This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.

“We are asking you, the public, to write to your local candidates standing for election on 6 May, asking them to commit to working to end the need for food banks if elected. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future.”

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: “Independent food banks are also continuing to see relentless need for help although combined Trussell Trust and independent food bank figures represent a fraction of the UK’s food insecurity picture. Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured.

“It’s the Government’s responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials.”

* The Trussell Trust is asking the public to encourage candidates to make a pledge and stand for change here.

* Source: The Trussell Trust