Latest Trussell Trust foodbank figures 'tip of the iceberg'

By agency reporter
November 13, 2020

New figures reveal that 2,600 emergency food parcels were provided for children every day on average by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network during the first six months of the pandemic.  

More than 1.2 million emergency food parcels were given to people struggling to afford essentials by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK-wide network between 1 April and 30 September 2020, making it the busiest ever half-year period for food banks. Over 470,000 of these parcels went to children.   

While the figures highlight the level of need across the UK, the charity warns its new figures do not include the number of people helped by the countless new community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities, which have stepped up during the pandemic to support their communities.  

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:“Throughout 2020, communities across the country have stepped in to provide vital support to people left without enough money. Volunteers in food banks have been working hard under extremely difficult circumstances to make sure support is there for people struggling to afford essentials. But it’s not right that any of us are forced to a charity for food, at any time of year.  

“In the last few weeks, we’ve seen incredible compassion and concern for people facing hunger following Marcus Rashford’s brilliant campaigning. And it's hugely welcome to see the government build on steps already taken by providing significant new funding for local councils in England. This vital local support must work in coordination with a national welfare system that is strong enough to act as a lifeline to anyone struggling to afford the essentials. 

“This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit us suddenly, with devastating consequences for people’s lives. But it’s also shown we can make huge changes to the way we live and look after each other. It’s shown that when we come together to push for change, the government responds. Together, we can build a hunger free future.” 

The Trussell Trust has welcomed recent steps made by the government to prevent people from falling into destitution – including the announcement of a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme for England to boost local welfare assistance.  But the charity is concerned that food banks in its network may still see high levels of need over the winter and beyond – particularly as redundancies recently hit a record high, doubling since the previous quarter. It is asking the government to ensure money is kept in the pockets of people who need it most by: 

  • Locking in the £20 rise to Universal Credit, brought in at the start of the pandemic, and making sure that people currently excluded, such as people receiving payments through the legacy system, get this money too
  • Helping people hold on to more of their benefits by suspending benefit debt deductions until a fairer approach to repayments can be introduced

The top three reasons for someone being referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust's network during April to September were low income (47 per cent), benefit delays (nine per cent) and sickness/ill-health (six per cent).

Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use across the UK, because figures relate to food banks in the network and not to the hundreds of independent food banks. Research from the Independent Food Aid Network shows there are at least 805 independent food banks, with many other organisations also distributing emergency food during the pandemic.

An emergency food parcel is typically a three-day parcel containing emergency food for one person. During the current crisis food banks have also been distributing seven-day parcels. This means that in comparison to the same period in 2019, there was a 59 per cent increase in the total volume of food distributed.

* More details on the Trussell Trust statistics here

* The Trussell Trust is asking anyone who wants to end the injustice of people needing food banks to join the campaign for a Hunger Free Future here

* Trussell Trust https://www.trusselltrust.org/


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