FOODBANK USE ROCKETS! – huge demand for emergency food supplies

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THE number of emergency food supplies given out by Farnborough Foodbank has risen by 5.27% in the last year.

Farnborough Foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust, a national network of food banks giving out nutritionally balanced emergency food to people in crisis. During April to September this year, 1,557 three-day emergency food packages were provided by the foodbank to local people in crisis. 790 of these went to children.

During the same period in 2015, 1,479 three-day emergency food packages were handed out, with 713 of those to children. Trussell Trust foodbanks in the whole of the south east gave 45,435 three-day emergency food packages to people in crisis, compared to 44,427 in the same period last year. The charity has now proposed a direct telephone line between foodbanks and local job centres.

In the south east, benefits issues remain the biggest cause of foodbank use, accounting for 37% of total referrals (23% benefit delay, 14% benefit changes). Benefit delays and changes have been the biggest reasons for foodbank use UK-wide, accounting for 44% of referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks (16.6% benefit delay; 27.4% benefit changes).

In response, the charity is calling for a hotline to each foodbank’s local Job Centre Plus. The proposed hotline would provide vital timely and invaluable trouble-shooting support for people referred to foodbanks because of problems with a welfare claim and may prevent them from needing the foodbank again.

David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said: ‘As the number of emergency food parcels provided to people by foodbanks rises once again, it’s clear that more can be done to get people back on their feet faster.

‘Many foodbanks in the south east now host independent welfare and debt advisers but they cannot solve all the issues. To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat.

‘It feels like we could be seeing a new era at the DWP with a consultation on Work Capability Assessments and willingness to engage in dialogue with charities working on the front line. A telephone hotline could build on this and go a long way to improving food banks’ ability to help get people out of a crisis faster.’

Nationally, between April and September 2016, Trussell Trust foodbanks distributed 519,342 three-day emergency food packages to people in crisis compared to 506,369 during the same period last year. 188,584 of these went to children.

Low income was the second largest cause of a crisis, accounting for nearly one in four of all referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks, driven by problems such as low pay, insecure work or rising costs.