Food banks under pressure from a ‘tsunami of need’

New figures from food bank charity The Trussell Trust show that 1.3million emergency food parcels were given out between April and September this year – more than ever before.

Of those parcels, half a million went to children, as the cost of living crisis creates what the trust calls “a tsunami of need” across a struggling population.

One in five of the trust’s food bank users are in work – but still can’t afford the essentials.

The charity is calling on the prime minister to “act decisively” in next week’s budget, with a broad package of support, including raising benefits in line with inflation, to stave off what could be a devastating winter.

Responding to the new figures, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This report reveals the shocking truth about poverty in the UK, and the real extent of in-work poverty. Years of wage depression, economic stagnation and recent spiralling costs are having a devastating impact on families everywhere.

“Every day, families are struggling to get by, and the effects of this last for generations.

“UNISON is a campaigning force for pay justice and social justice. That’s why we’re keeping up the pressure on governments and employers to fix the pay crisis, and put an end to the cost of living crisis. It’s within their power to do this, they just have to make the right political choices.”

The Trussell Trust also revealed that:

  • 1.3m parcels is a third more than were provided during the same period in 2021 and an increase of more than 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels;
  • over the past six months, 320,000 people have been forced to turn to the trust’s food bank network for the first time;
  • the trust expects to provide, on average, more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day in the next six months;
  • the level of need is outstripping donations for the first time in its history.

The trust supports more than 1,300 food bank centres. With need outstripping donations, the charity has been forced to launch an emergency appeal to ensure that food banks can meet the alarming level of need in their communities.

And because they are supporting more and more people who are working, they are having to change their opening times to make sure working people can pick up their parcels outside of work hours.

As a result of all of this, the charity warns that food bank volunteers are at “breaking point”, both physically and mentally, and are set to face the hardest winter yet.

The charity warns that short-term interventions are neither sustainable for government nor dignified for people who are struggling, and they don’t solve the longer-term problem of people having to rely on food banks.

Emma Revie, chief executive at The Trussell Trust, said: “We know that with the right support and a stable and sufficient income, people don’t need to turn to food banks.

“Over the last few years, the government has acted to protect people who are struggling, and this action has made a difference. They must now act again – with swift support now to help people through the winter, and with vision for the longer-term to ensure that social security is always enough to weather challenging times.

“We are calling for the prime minister to act decisively in next week’s budget. We urge the UK government to realise their commitment of supporting people on the lowest income with a broad package of support.

“As well as ensuring that benefits rise with inflation as soon as possible, this must go further to close the gap between price rises and incomes over the winter.”


The article Food banks under pressure from a ‘tsunami of need’ first appeared on the UNISON National site.