Trussell Trust warns of cost of living crisiswritten by Bella Palmer
The charity says parents are skipping meals so their kids can eat and switching off appliances so they can afford internet access to do homework, but warns things are set to get worse
More than 130,000 emergency food parcels were given to people across Yorkshire who struggled to feed themselves last year, with 50,000 going to children.
This is according to figures from the Trussell Trust, which gave out more than two million food parcels via its food bank network across the UK in the year going up to March.
The charity says parents are skipping meals so their kids can eat and switching off appliances so they can afford internet access to do homework, but warns things are set to get worse.
Its network of food banks across Yorkshire gave out 135,404 emergency food parcels in 2021-22, of which 51,873 were provided for children. This was up from a total of 118,507 the previous year during the height of the pandemic, despite the overall figure dropping across the UK as a whole. It was also far higher than the 95,314 recorded in 2019-20.
The number distributed in Rotherham rose by 42% from 2,693 in 2020-21 to 3,830 last year – one of the sharpest increases proportionally in the UK. The figure also rose by 36% in Sheffield, from 44,207 to 60,142.
Leeds was hit less badly but has still seen an increase since 2016-17 when 16,563 packages were given out to 23,535 in 2021-22. 9,262 of these were given out to children in the past year.
However, the Trussell Trust said various factors could influence the number of parcels recorded within an area, including the prevalence of other food banks and the number of open distribution centres.
Across the UK, the charity’s network provided around 2.2 million parcels to people facing financial hardship in the year to March, of which more than 832,000 went to children. This was down from 2.6 million the previous year when Covid-19 sent demand soaring but still represented a 14% increase from 2019-20.
Parcels can provide three days or (since early 2020) a week’s worth of supplies, and the Trussell Trust said its figures did not reflect the true scale of the problem as they didn’t account for the hundreds of other food banks outside its own network.
The group says it expects the need for emergency food to rise further as the cost of living crisis deepens, with one food bank manager saying people were ‘scared’ about the coming months.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.
How can this be right in a society like ours? And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship, she said.
No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry, she said.
She said: We are calling on the UK Government to bring benefits in line with the true cost of living. As an urgent first step, benefits should be increased by at least 7%, keeping pace with increases in the cost of living.
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