Food bank usage hits record high as nearly 3m emergency food parcels are given out in past year by Trussell Trust

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A record near-3m emergency food parcels have been handed out at food banks in the year to March, with the number provided for children topping a million for the first time.

The figures from the Trussell Trust charity represent a 37 per cent increase compared to the previous year. The charity runs food banks in Paulsgrove, Portsea and Southsea in Portsmouth, as well as one in Park Gate, Fareham.

A total of 2,986,203 emergency food parcels were given out between April 2022 and March this year – the most parcels food banks in the charity’s UK-wide network have ever distributed in a single year.

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The number is more than double the amount distributed by food banks in the same period five years ago, the charity said.

Food banks in Portsmouth have seen a surge in demand for their services. Picture: Peter Summers/Getty ImagesFood banks in Portsmouth have seen a surge in demand for their services. Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images
Food banks in Portsmouth have seen a surge in demand for their services. Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images

More than 760,000 people used a food bank in the network for the first time. This was a 38 per cent rise on first-time users compared to the same period last year.

The Trussell Trust said the problem is ‘not a regionalised issue’, with an increase of at least 28 per cent in each area of the UK.

The charity said it is the case now that the level of need across the network is ‘far outstripping the donations that we’ve been receiving’, meaning food banks are having to purchase more food themselves and source more warehouse space to store it.

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It said food banks are also having to extend their opening hours to accommodate employed people who need to access their emergency support around their working patterns.

Help from the Government in the form of the Cost of Living Payments – and the support provided in Northern Ireland and Scotland – did result in a temporary dip in need for food banks, the charity said, but the organisation criticised the short-term nature of support.

The charity’s senior research manager Emma Newbury said: ‘We see that there is some respite with the cost of living payments but that is short-lived and shows that one-off payments are unable to make lasting difference when people’s regular income from social security and work is just too low for them to be able to afford the essentials.’

The charity is calling on the government to make a long-term commitment that benefit rates will always be enough to afford the essentials, urging that the principle of a minimum Universal Credit to protect people from going without essentials be enshrined in law.

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It referred to YouGov online polling of more than 12,000 UK adults on behalf of the Trussell Trust in August and September last year which suggested 77 per cent of respondents think food banks should not be needed in the UK, and 85 per cent thinking ensuring everyone has enough money for basic needs should be a high priority for the government.

Emma Revie, the trust’s chief executive, said the latest figures are ‘extremely concerning and show that an increasing number of people are being left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by and this is not right’.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the ‘devastating’ increase in emergency food parcels is the ‘price families are paying for 13 years of Tory economic failure.’