A “record” 2.5 million food parcels were given to families in financial crisis in the financial year 2020/21, according to shocking new statistics released by the Trussell Trust foodbank network.
The charity reports that between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK wide network distributed just over 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis, a 33% increase on the previous year. Worryingly, 980,000 of these went to children.
However, Trussell Trust warns that this is only the tip of the iceberg because there are at least 1,034 independent food banks across the UK in addition to food banks in the Trussell Trust network.
While there can be many reasons why people may need the support of foodbanks, Trussell Trust says the main driver of food poverty remains problems with the benefits system. This includes payment delays, deductions and inadequate benefit levels.
Other main drivers include challenging life experiences or ill-health and the lack of informal or formal support.
The charity is calling on candidates standing in the upcoming elections across England, Scotland, and Wales to commit to developing a plan to the end the need for foodbanks.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust network, 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.”
Commenting, SNP candidate for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Bob Doris, said: “Food banks, including the one run by Trussell Trust in my constituency, are working incredibly hard to continue to feed people unable to afford even the basics – but they cannot continue to pick up the pieces left as a result of the Tory government’s cuts and gaps in support.
“Even before the pandemic hit, a worrying number of families across the UK were struggling to get by because of a decade of Tory austerity.
“The figures published today make for dire reading, and we must not forget that behind these statistics are families in desperate need of support.”
She added: “The SNP in Government has done its best to tackle poverty here by bringing in game-changing policies like the Scottish Child Payment, which we will double if re-elected, extending free school meals through the holidays, investing more than £1.96 billion in targeting support at low-income households last year, and mitigating the callous Tory bedroom tax.
“But whilst employment powers and the vast majority of welfare spending remains reserved to Westminster, Scotland will always be tackling poverty and hunger with one hand tied behind its back.
“We cannot continue to wait for the UK government – who dithered and delayed on extending free school meals and supporting low-income families through this pandemic – to act.
“Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands – so we can build a better and fairer society.”