The number of emergency food parcels distributed to households in crisis rose in the past year by nearly a fifth to a record level of just under 1.6 million, the trust running the largest network of food banks has said.
Figures gathered by the Trussell Trust, which supports 1,200 food banks in the UK constituting about two-thirds of all centres, show 1.58m emergency three-day parcels were provided in the 12 months up to March 31 this year. This compares to 1.33m in the previous year.
Of the parcels provided in the past year, 577,618 were given to children – a rise of 20% on the previous year.
The main reason for parcels being distributed in 2018-19 was low income, with referral data suggesting 80% of these were given to people receiving benefits and not working.
A fifth were provided due to delays in benefits and 17% were the result of changes to benefits.
The number of foodbank parcels distributed in the Trussell Trust network has risen by 73% in the last five years.
The trust’s chief executive Emma Revie called for an end to the five-week waiting period for universal credit.
She said: “Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place.
”No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security. That’s why in the long-term, we’re urging the government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real living wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”