Food bank demand hits record numbers as centres prepare for ‘worst winter yet’

‘We don’t want to spend every winter saying things at food banks are getting worse, but they are.’

Food bank

The Trussell Trust, the nationwide charity that works to end the need for food banks in Britain, has issued a stark forecast on food bank usage this winter. The network expects more than 600,000 people will be forced to rely on its services over the three-month period from December 2023 to February 2024.

The charity is expected to have to provide more than one million emergency food parcels in the same period, equating to an average of one parcel every eight seconds, and 11,500 a day. This would mark the highest number of parcels ever provided by the charity in a three-month period.

In the same period last year, 225,000 people needed to use food banks in Britain for the first time. Facilities across the country provided support for more than 220,000 children. At the time, this represented the highest recorded number of people using Trussell Trust food banks in the UK.

The organisation has based its estimation for this winter’s figures by looking at the average increase in emergency food parcels from April to mid-September 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. This increase was applied to the number of parcels that were previously distributed in December 2022 to the end of February 2023. In this period food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed 904,000 emergency food parcels.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, commented on the forecast.

“We don’t want to spend every winter saying things at food banks are getting worse, but they are.”

Revie noted how one in seven people in the UK are facing hunger because they don’t have enough money to live on.

“That’s not the kind of society we want to live in, and we won’t stand by and let this continue. Every year we are seeing more and more people needing food banks, and that is just not right.

“Together, we have roots into hundreds of communities, and while someone facing hunger can’t change the structural issues driving the need for food banks on their own, thousands of us coming together can. We must end hunger across the UK so that no one needs a food bank to survive,” she added.

Increasing food bank demand has been attributed to a lack of action by the Tory government. In February, amid soaring demand for emergency parcels across the country, Labour MP Dawn Butler said: This is the Tories’ record after over a decade in power. But I don’t believe their failure is because the problem is too complex, it is a simple absence of care and compassion.  

Ahead of the winter, the Trussell Trust is calling on people to make donations to their local food banks, so they are able to continue to provide the support that people need.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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