'A stain on society': Over 3 million food bank parcels handed out in record year

A record 3.1 million food bank emergency parcels have been handed out in a single year across the UK. Credit: PA

A record 3.1 million food bank emergency parcels have been handed out in a single year across the UK.

The Trussell Trust food bank network said 3,121,404 parcels were distributed by food banks in its network up to the end of March. Just under 40% of those were given to children.

The number of parcels being distributed is now almost double that of five years ago.

While the number of first-time food bank users - 655,000 - is down slightly, its still a rise of 40% from five years ago.

The Trust added that older people in particular were "finding themselves unable to afford essentials and facing hunger and severe hardship."

The number of parcels going to households with someone of pension age were up by more than a quarter (27%).

The total amount of food parcels given out this year is more than double that of five years ago Credit: PA

One food bank in Leeds said it had seen an "alarming" rise in pensioners needing support.

"They are dealing with pensioners who can't afford to put food on the table due to having to pay higher energy costs, and that is the choice they are having to make," said Wendy Doyle, operations manager at Leeds South and East foodbank.

Val McKie, a former management consultant from the North West, found herself needing to use food banks after her husband died, her contractor closing down, and her landlord selling her home.

She says she was "overwhelmed with shame" at having to use food banks, describing the increasing need for more food banks as "a stain on our society."

The Trussell Trust has called on political parties to commit to tackling the problem. They are urging politicians to back a "supportive social security system" with better supports for parents, carers, and people with disabilities who are facing increasing living costs.

"We must not let food banks become the new norm," said Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, "as we approach the next UK General Election, we urgently need all political leaders to set out how they will build a future, where no one needs food banks to survive."

Social change organisation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, repeated campaigners' longstanding call for the introduction of a so-called essentials guarantee, which would ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.

The Government said its cost of living support package had prevented 1.3 million people falling into poverty in 2022-23.

They reiterated that they had uprated benefits, raised the state pension, and was "raising the National Living Wage, cutting taxes and driving down inflation while investing billions through our Back to Work Plan."

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