Food banks are facing their toughest winter yet as growing demand fueled by the rising cost of living outpaces donations.
Leading charity The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of 1,300 food bank centres, is today issuing an emergency appeal, warning that ‘the soaring cost of living is causing a tsunami of food bank needs “.
Demand has been particularly acute in recent months, with the charity distributing 46% more emergency food parcels to banks in August and September compared to the same months in 2021.
This is the first time the Trussell Trust has recorded a widening gap between donations and the food distributed.
Some 1.3 million emergency food parcels, designed to feed a family with three days’ worth of meals, will be needed over the next six months, the charity said. This includes half a million children.
Food banks are struggling to meet increased needs and have to buy three times more food than last year, they warned. This fiscal year, food banks brought in approximately 1,400 tons of food, the equivalent of 111 double-decker buses.
Banks also have to dip deep into their own funds and have spent an average of nearly £1,400 a month to top up food donations. This is a significant increase on last year, when food banks spent on average just over £750 a month.
“Faced with the perfect storm of rising energy prices, inflation and a potential recession pushing people deeper into poverty, the skyrocketing cost of living is bringing a tsunami of needs for food banks,” said Trussell Trust CEO Emma Revie. .
Referring to the charity’s emergency appeal for donations, she said: ‘We never meant to issue an appeal like this, we would prefer there was no need at all food banks. But right now they are on the front lines of this cost of living emergency, we have no other choice.
All money raised through the emergency appeal will go towards grants for food banks, offering financial counseling at food banks and further support to keep banks operating as they also face to increased energy bills and operating costs.
Jamie Ginns of the Greenwich Food Bank said this has been the busiest year yet. They plan to use the extra grant money to buy blankets to add to their food parcels.
The rising cost of living has had a significant impact on families, and millions of households are skipping meals or struggling to put healthy meals on the table.
New research from consumer group Which? shows that people are changing the way they shop and eat due to soaring food prices.
Food inflation is now at 14.6%, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics. The high prices are driven by the rising cost of bread, cereals, meat products, milk, cheese and eggs.
Who? surveyed 2,791 adults online in early August and found that of those who said they had the most financial hardship, 50% said their household skipped meals.
Almost half – 46% – of consumers said they found it more difficult to eat healthy than before the cost of living crisis.
Some 78% said they had great difficulty meeting day-to-day costs.
A 57-year-old London resident, Roberta, said she was cutting back on her food because she didn’t want to lower her heating.
“I have osteoarthritis and need to be warm,” she said. “Now I only buy strictly what I need. I have also reduced the amount of food I eat. At lunch I will have a cup of tea – if I am hungry, a cup of milk hot with a slice of toast.
Based on their survey responses, Which? estimates that 6.3 million adults live in households that skip meals due to the rising cost of living.
They estimate that 24.3 million adults are also finding it harder to eat healthy due to soaring prices.
Half of respondents said they turned to cheaper products to save money on food.
And 99% of people said they were looking to save money on the amount of money they spent on food.
This has benefited some supermarkets, such as Asda, which saw sales rise 6.9% in the 12 weeks to October 8 as shoppers sought out bargain deals.
Own-brand products, such as Asda’s yellow brand essentials, also performed particularly well.
“The devastating impact of the cost of living crisis is worryingly leading millions of people to skip meals or struggle to put healthy meals on the table,” head of food policy at Which? Sue Davies said.