The Bishop of Jarrow has suggested that 2013 may well be remembered as the year of the food bank.
In his festive message, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant said as many people struggle to make ends meet, "it seems impossible to separate Christmas and food banks."
New figures released by a charity show there has been a sixfold increase in just one year.
Julia Barthram has spent the day at a food bank in Gateshead.
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"I would personally like to thank the local community for their amazing donations of food, toiletries and clothing. "
Owners John and Irene Hays say there is ''light at the end of the tunnel'', after the pandemic forced them to close 650 UK stores.
There has been resistance to calls to dismantle memorials to the explorer.