Pandemic sees rise in food bank use as 245,000 emergency supplies given out across the East

A carrier bag being filled at a food bank
The Trussell Trust warned "these figures are just the tip of the iceberg" Credit: ITV Anglia

An emergency food parcel was given to a child once every five minutes in the East of England during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country's largest network of food banks.

In total the Trussell Trust handed out almost 245,000 emergency supplies to people in need in the region between April 2020 and March 2021, with 102,000 of those going to children.

It represents a 29% rise on the previous 12 months, when 190,000 parcels were handed out.

The Trussell Trust warned "these figures are just the tip of the iceberg", because they only count the organisation's 180 sites in the region and not the numerous other groups offering food support.

Emergency food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust in the East of England

  • Adults (Apr 20 - March 21): 142,593

  • Adults (Apr 19 - March 20): 113,793

  • Children (Apr 20 - March 21): 102,002

  • Children (Apr 19 - March 20): 76,246

Norwich saw the greatest number of food parcels handed out last year with 14,000 distributed, an increase of nearly 3,000.

The rise in the region represents the national picture, with the Trust seeing record demand across the UK.

The charity is calling for candidates in May's local elections to commit to ending food hunger.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "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 election candidates for a commitment to working to end the need for food banks. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future."

Top five local authorities in the East by number of emergency parcels handed out

  • Norwich: 14,717 (Adults: 9,611; Children: 5,106)

  • Broxbourne: 13,834 (Adults: 7,361; Children: 6,473)

  • East Suffolk: 13,793 (Adults: 8,482; Children: 5,310)

  • Colchester: 13,513 (Adults: 7,698; Children: 5,815)

  • Peterborough: 12,514 (Adults: 7,631; Children: 4,883)