The UK’s biggest food bank network, The Trussell Trust, has reported its busiest ever period in the week after lockdown was announced on 23rd March, the Trust distributed over 50,000 food parcels, almost double its usual volume.
Many food bank charities have shown concern that the current high demand for food parcels is unsustainable and has called for new support measures.
“We need emergency measures to ensure people can makes ends meet during this crisis. We have the power to come together as a country and make sure support is there to stop any of us being swept into poverty during this emergency,” said the Trussell Trust’s chief executive, Emma Revie.
Revie has spoken out at how government plans to support struggling families, such as the job retention scheme and a £20 increase to universal credit per week, were welcome measures but not enough to prevent a rising number of families falling into difficulty.
The message was echoed by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan), which recorded a 59% increase in demand for emergency food support in between February and March. This is 17 times higher than the same period in 2019.
UK-based food banks across the UK have been running at capacity since the pandemic began and are struggling to maintain food stocks.
Sabine Goodwin, Ifan’s coordinator, commented: “The solution is not in trying to distribute more food parcels but in providing sufficient income to the huge numbers of people impacted by this crisis and the poverty that preceded it.”
A spokesperson for the government has said: “We’re committed to supporting all those affected by Covid-19 through these unprecedented times and we’ve implemented an enormous package of measures to do so, including income protection schemes and mortgage holidays.”
“For those in most need, we’ve injected more than £6.5bn into the welfare system, including an increase to universal credit of up to £1,040 a year. No one has to wait five weeks for money as urgent payments are available.”
If you are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic and need help to obtain emergency food, visit The Trussell Trust who can issue people in need with a food bank voucher.