The biggest food parcel bank in the UK is handing out more parcels than ever before.
Delays on social security payments as well as sanctions on benefits have been suggested as major causes behind the record numbers.
Food Parcels Rising
The Trussell Trust recently announced that they are on course to deliver the highest annual amount of food parcels ever before the year is out.
The charity’s food distribution figures are often used as a measure for poverty in the UK, as only the most needy are able to claim the parcels. They have 420 food banks across the UK, all of which have been working overtime lately. Between April and September, 519,000 parcels were given out by the trust.
44% of all referrals during this time were due to problems with social security. These included late payments due to administrative delays, as well as benefit sanctions handed down to previous claimants.
During the year to April 2016, 1.1 million food parcels were given out. The charity says that it is already on target to beat that figure, particularly with the Christmas period coming up. The use of food banks began to grow rapidly in 2013, before seeming to stabilise in 2015 – though that is now changing once more.
Trussell Trust chief executive David McAuley said: “To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat.”
Poorest Areas Suffering
The End Child Poverty coalition has recently released disturbing figures about poverty across the UK, a topic very closely linked to the use of food banks. The national rate of child poverty is 29%, though in some areas this figure rises to almost 50%. The highest level of child poverty is in Birmingham Ladywood, at 47.3%. The lowest figure was in Gordon, Scotland, at 9.2%.
The Trust is now calling on the government to set up hotlines between food banks and the Department for Work and Pensions. This would allow volunteers to quickly set up solutions for those who are unable to put food on the table.
It’s worth pointing out that the Trussell Trust figures are not the only ones to consider. Independent food banks also serve a large number of communities, while some families may simply have gone without food.
Debbie Abrahams, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “The Trussell Trust report showing that the UK is on course for a record number of people needing to use emergency food parcels is a damning indictment of the Tory government’s failure. Even more staggering in the run-up to Christmas is almost 200,000 children will be relying on a food parcel to get a decent meal. It is clear that delays in benefits payments and changes to eligibility are a major cause behind this increase.”
A Need for Assistance
It’s clear that more could be done in the food industry to ensure that no one ever goes hungry, and it’s easy to help make your mark. If you deal with fresh produce, you can ensure that any leftover or surplus produce goes to a food bank. It may also be possible to hand over rejected items. Sometimes these are rejected for their size, colour, or shape, rather than whether or not they are edible. In these cases, the food would be appreciated by needy homes.
If you are looking for food jobs that do good in the world, consider working with a food bank or volunteering in your spare time away from the workplace.