Trussell Trust volunteers in Brixton, south London.
The charity has launched an emergency appeal :
The UK’s biggest food bank network is preparing to spend millions topping up charity food parcels this winter as it offers help to record numbers of families at risk of going hungry as a result of the cost of living crisis.
The Trussell Trust said the expenditure was needed to ensure food banks had adequate reserves because its customary main source of supplies – donations from the public – was failing to keep pace with demand.
The trust said it expected 1.3m emergency food parcels would be distributed by its members over the next six months to help soaring numbers of households in need, including to 500,000 families with children.
Its 420 food banks had already had to buy three times as much food as they did last year to maintain supplies, the trust said, each spending £1,400 a month on average to ensure they met the growing need.
Unexpectedly high demand for food parcels in August and September, when demand is normally slower, meant its food banks had been unable to stockpile sufficient supplies as they prepare for their busiest time of year.
Food banks have traditionally relied on food donations from the public, businesses, schools and faith groups, tending to use cash reserves only to meet occasional shortages.
With need currently far outstripping donations, however, almost a sixth of Trussell Trust food banks’ supplies are typically now bought by the charity.
Trussell Trust’s chief executive, Emma Revie, warned the government “food banks could not be the only response” to the cost of living crisis, and called on ministers to offer a fresh round of targeted financial support to low-income households.
Although the government introduced a package of cost of living payments in July for people on low incomes, Trussell Trust research in August found two-thirds of recipients had already spent the first tranche of support they received.
“It went to the right people but it wasn’t enough,” said Revie.
The Trussell Trust today launches an emergency fundraising appeal to enable its UK-wide network of food banks to top up supplies, offer financial advice services and give out non-food aid such as blankets.
“We never wanted to run an appeal like this, we would rather there was no need for food banks at all.
But right now they are on the frontline of this cost of living emergency – we have no other option,” Revie said.
Food Foundation data published earlier this week showed hunger levels in the UK have soared since the beginning of the year, with nearly 10 million adults and 4 million children regularly skipping meals.