Record numbers of children rely on food banks

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A RECORD number of children are being forced to rely on food banks in order to survive, with the numbers expected to surge in the run up to Christmas, the UK’s largest food bank charity has warned.

The Trussell Trust have warned of the devastating effects of the disastrous roll-out of the new benefit system Universal Credit. The new benefit system means that families do not get a penny for five weeks and so are driven to food banks to avoid starvation.

The Trussell Trust said that the biggest single cause, according to the charity’s figures, is ‘benefit delays and changes’, which was given as the main reason in 43% of referrals. Between April and September, the trust says, there was a 30% increase in demand for food banks in areas where full Universal Credit had been in place for six months or more, compared with the same period in 2016.

The charity has a network of more than 430 food banks, part of an estimated 2,000-plus across the UK. Typically in December, a higher-than-average 40% of food parcels go to children as demand from single parents and families rises, and school holidays cut off access to free meals.

Last December about 30,900 children were estimated to have been fed by the trust’s food banks, up from approximately 9,600 in 2012. A parcel is enough food for about ten meals and can include baby products such as bubble bath and nappies.

‘Every year we see a spike in demand at Christmas but this year food banks are expecting their busiest Christmas ever,’ said Mark Ward, interim chief executive at the Trussell Trust. There are an estimated three million malnourished people in the UK at any time, with many more at risk of becoming malnourished. Around one-in-three admitted to hospital or care homes in the UK are found to be malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. As a result of bad diet and malnutrition, childhood diseases that used to be a thing of the past have come back with a vengeance.

Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said last month that in some parts of her constituency children are suffering from tuberculosis and rickets. She found multiple instances of children being admitted to hospital after collapsing due to a lack of calcium.