New figures released reveal food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network provided more than 2.1 million parcels nationwide from April 2021 to March 2022.
It represents a 14 per cent increase compared to the same period from 2019 to 2020.
In Portsmouth, the four food banks that are part of the trust’s network gave out 9,679 food parcels in 2019, 13,567 in 2020, and 9,666 in 2021.
Food distribution services having been warning since last autumn that demand was rising and showed no signs of abating.
Among those warning about the impending crisis was Cheryl Coleman, the manager of the Portchester Community Association, which runs an independent food pantry.
Cheryl said: ‘It’s massive at the moment. We have 50 people a week come in, instead of 13 over a fortnight that we had a few months ago.
‘It’s jumped a lot – it’s been an eye-opener.
‘Prices are going up and up, and people are struggling – people are panicked.’
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected next month to announce a set of measures to help tackle the crisis, including regulatory changes and leveraging support from the private sector.
A government spokesperson said: ‘For the hardest hit, we’re putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families on Universal Credit, have also boosted the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and our Household Support Fund is there to help with the cost of everyday essentials.’
But much more needs to be done to address the severity of the crisis, according to Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.
The charity leader said: ‘People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.
‘No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.
‘There is still time for the UK government to do the right thing. We are calling on the UK government to bring benefits in line with the true cost of living. As an urgent first step benefits should be increased by at least seven per cent, keeping pace with increases in the cost of living.’