Christmas expected to be busiest ever time for food banks, says Trussell Trust
This Christmas is expected to be the busiest ever time for the UK's food banks, according to the charity which runs 1,200 of them across the country.
The Trussell Trust say new figures suggest a record number of people in crisis will need support in December.
They said having analysed how many food bank parcels were needed in the same month in 2018, taken alongside the increase so far in 2019, “more people than ever” will need their help over the festive period.
The charity said 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by its network to people in crisis last Christmas, with almost 80,000 of those going to children.
They said this was 44% higher than the monthly average, and two weeks ago they revealed statistics for April to September of this year showing a 23% year-on-year increase in food parcels.
As a result they are now encouraging the public to donate to their local food bank as soon as possible, and in the run up to the election to ask candidates on all sides “to pledge to protect people from hunger”.
Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water.
“Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”
She added: “It’s not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year – not just at Christmas.
“Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank.”
The "appalling" figures were seized on by Labour, which pinned the blame on the Conservatives for food poverty.
Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “While so many of us will enjoy indulging over the Christmas period, it is a total scandal that more families than ever will be relying on food handouts just to save them from going hungry.
“The appalling rise in food bank use reflects the cruelty of Tory austerity.
“Boris Johnson’s born-to-rule Conservatives don’t seem to care that when they sit down for their Christmas dinners, hundreds of thousands of families will be relying on the kindness of strangers just to survive.”
In response a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “We spend over £95billion a year on working age benefits and Universal Credit supports more than 2.5 million people across the UK.
“With Universal Credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and 95% of payments are made in full and on time.”