ITV News has surveyed 45 of the UK's busiest independent food banks and found in the last 12 months almost every single one had seen more people than ever before coming to them for help.
In the first survey of its kind, ITV News has spoken to independent food banks not affiliated to the Trussell Trust, the charity which administers the majority of facilities in the UK.
Here are the some of the key findings:
- Each of the 45 food banks say they had seen an increase in demand over the last 12 months
- Eight food banks said they were now unable to meet the demand in their area
- All the food banks surveyed cited problems with the benefits system as a reason for increased demand
- 60% said they saw people who had not eaten for at least 24 hours
- 75% said they did not have enough space or cold storage to feed everyone they needed to
- 60% said they provide special "no cook" packs for kettles or microwaves for people struggling to pay their energy bills
- All 45 food banks provide extras such as toilet roll, toiletries, baby milk, nappies and pet food
Every foodbank in the survey said that problems with the benefits system were behind the rise in the number of people using their service. Household bills and debt were also cited by some organisations.
The rise in demand some in areas has been particularly stark. Lewisham food bank in south London says it has seen a 1,000% increase, meaning it sometimes feeds as many as 500 people in one week.
Client numbers have now risen so much that some food banks are having to turn people away.
Even among those who say they are keeping up with demand, a facility in Aberdeen said it was now "under pressure", while the FEED centre in St Albans said it was "bursting at the seams".