Record 1M people forced to use foodbanks

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

More and more people have been forced to visit foodbanks for emergency aid
More and more people have been forced to visit foodbanks for emergency aid

Related tags Public health

A record 1M people received at least three days’ emergency food aid from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the past 12 months, according to data released by the charity.

An extra 100,000 people visited Trussell Trust foodbanks last year compared with the previous 12 months, with 400,000 being children.

This is an increase of 19%, yet the problem could be worse as Trussell Trust figures did not take into account people that had visited other foodbanks.

The total number of foodbanks rose by 5% in the UK last year.

Trussell Trust UK foodbank director Adrian Curtis said despite signs of economic recovery, hunger continued to affect significant numbers of men, women and children in the UK.

Full extent of problem

“It’s difficult to be sure of the full extent of the problem as Trussell Trust figures don’t include people who are helped by other food charities or those who feel too ashamed to seek help,”​ he said.

“Trussell Trust foodbanks are increasingly hosting additional services like debt counselling and welfare advice at our foodbanks, which is helping more people out of crisis.”

These latest figures highlighted how vital it was that everyone worked to prevent and relieve hunger in the UK and how crucial it was that charities listened to the experiences of people using foodbanks, Curtis claimed.

Trussell Trust users

  • 2014/15: 1,084,604
  • 2014/13: 913,138
  • 2013/12: 346,992
  • 2012/11: 128,697
  • 2011/10: 61,468
  • 2010/09: 40,898
  • 2009/08: 25, 899

Everyone who attends a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a social worker, school liaison officer or health visitor. Foodbank managers said clients who were in work were struggling with job insecurity work, low wages and high living costs.

There had been an increase in people visiting foodbanks because of sickness, homelessness, delayed wages and unemployment, Trussell Trust claimed.

Over 90% of the food given out is donated by the public. Last year the public donated 10,280t of food to Trussell Trust’s 400 foodbanks.

Dr John Middleton, vice president of Faculty of Public Health said UK poverty was creating “massive health issues”​ for people and if its root causes were not tackled it would continue to affect future generations.

Public health issue

“The rising number of families and individuals who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is a public health issue that we must not ignore,”​ he said.

“The increased burden of managing people's health will only increase if we do not address the drivers of people to food banks.”

Marcella, a former dental assistant recovering from a spinal operation:

“Going to a foodbank was very emotional for me. I felt a bit ashamed at not being able to support myself but they took the pressure off, they gave me advice and helped me to find a support worker.”

Carmel McConnell, ceo of free school meal provider Magic Breakfast, said the data was “worrying”.

“Magic Breakfast has seen an increase in the number of hunger-hit schools applying for urgent food deliveries, our waiting list now stands at 270 schools which is an all-time high,”​ she claimed.

“When children start their school day hungry, they cannot concentrate and risk missing the most important lessons of the day.”

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