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Food Bank Use Triples In Year

October 16, 2013

The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.

The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.

A third of those being helped were children, and a third needed food following a delay in the payment of benefits.

The government said the rise was down to the greater number of food banks.

The Trussell Trust said the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking, as they cannot afford to use the energy.

The Trust is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves.

“The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable,” said Chris Mould, the Trust’s executive chairman.

“It’s scandalous, and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people, ” he added.

Food banks work through a system of referrals.

Professionals including doctors and social workers hand out vouchers, which in the first instance can be exchanged for three days’ worth of emergency food.


The Trust said that the problem of hunger in the UK is getting worse.

Rising living costs and stagnant wages are forcing more people to live on a “financial knife edge”, it said.

It also forecast that rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people “choosing between heating and eating.”

It admits that one reason for the rise in the numbers is that there are twice as many food banks in existence as last year.

But the Trust says the number of people using them has still tripled, and that even the well-established food banks are reporting significant rises in their use.

It claims that problems with benefit payments is a major factor.

“We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons,” said Mr Mould.

“Or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed,” he added.

Food poverty

However the government has taken issue with the report.

Who can use a food bank?

  • Users have to be referred by any one of a number of care professionals, including social workers, doctors, health visitors, the police, schools or church ministers.
  • In the first instance they will be given vouchers for three days of emergency food. However they can be given up to 3 vouchers in a row.
  • After that the Trussell Trust will try to give people long-term support to stop them going hungry

“The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them,” said a government spokesperson.

On the matter of benefit payments, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that there was “no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”.

It also said that benefit processing times have steadily improved over the past five years, with 90% now being paid within 16 days.

There was further evidence of increased demand for food hand-outs from FareShare, an organisation which distributes supplies to more than 1000 charities across the UK.

It said requests for its services had risen by 15% over the last year.

The supermarket giant Tesco has now agreed to donate all its fresh surplus food to FareShare, so providing 7 million meals a year to those who need them.

The Labour MP Frank Field, who wrote a report on food poverty for the government, has already called for a public enquiry.

At the end of September he wrote to the Prime Minister, saying he was worried that food banks were becoming an “institutional part of the welfare state”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sharon permalink
    October 16, 2013 12:26 pm

    I hope all them with the powers that be have to live our lives. Utterly disgraceful


  1. Food Bank Use Triples In Year | SteveB's Politi...

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