Food bank providers are “deeply concerned by the extent of the suffering” across the UK and have warned they are struggling to keep up with “relentless” demand. According to the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), many are reaching breaking point as families struggle through the cost of living crisis.
The group of more than 550 independent food banks has called on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to act urgently to tackle “rapidly rising poverty, misery and hunger”. A letter to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak said: “We are writing to urge you to take immediate action to reduce the rapidly increasing poverty, misery and hunger in our communities.
“We are deeply concerned by the level of suffering we are already experiencing and our ability to keep people safe from hunger in the weeks and months to come. An emergency food supply cannot solve a person’s financial crisis and only serves as a temporary band-aid.
“Actions urgently need to be taken to significantly increase people’s incomes through the social security system, emergency first aid and wage increases coupled with job security.” The network said people are struggling with rising prices for food, energy and other essential goods during the beneficiaries see a real cut as inflation outstrips payments.
Exhausted and overwhelmed food bank teams “may not be able to keep picking up the pieces” as they face “such unrelenting demand.” The letter continues, “Additionally, people who used to donate to food banks now have to reach out for help themselves.
“Our members are struggling to find the resources to provide adequate food parcels as the scale of demand and rising food and energy prices are affecting the services they operate.” Kathy Bland, of Leominster Food Bank in Herefordshire, said the need has increased since “unprecedented” demand at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
She continued: “We are now facing a much worse crisis which will spiral out of control if this letter is not taken seriously. “We are volunteers and cannot meet the needs that we see.
“A bag of groceries is not enough – people need services that are enough to live on and to provide their children with a basic standard of living.” William McGranaghan, founder of Dad’s House, a charity helping single fathers across the UK Providing support said: “The amount of stress and anxiety inflicted on parents and children will be catastrophic when it comes to the costs of family breakdown, NHS referrals, children missing school and parents falling into debt.”
The Trussell Trust said it was “deeply concerned” by the real benefit cuts and that the government must prevent the cost-of-living crisis “from becoming a national emergency”. Chief Executive Emma Revie said: “By failing to realistically assess the benefits for the times we are in and to balance this with inflation, the Government is now risking hundreds of thousands more in the coming months and beyond Pushing people through food bank doors. That is not right.
“For those most at risk from rising living costs – who are unable to work or are able to work longer hours because of disabilities, caring responsibilities or mental health problems – there is very little protection and many are now being pushed beyond their breaking point.”