The Independent Food Aid Network (IFNA) has reported that 72% of food banks have reported a drop in donations. As food prices soar in the UK reliance on food banks has increased dramatically, in turn, this also means that many can no longer afford to donate to food banks.
There are over 1400 Trussell Trust food banks and over 1100 independent food banks in the UK. These food banks are essential for those who cannot afford to feed themselves and their family. In the past, these food banks were used by the poorest in society but that is no longer the case.
According to the Trussell Trust mid-year stats of 2022, it was revealed that one in five families using food bank services had a working family member. Wages are no longer sustaining some families.
The IFNA has seen a 91% rise in usage across UK food banks. The steep rise in food bank usage can be attributed to rising energy prices, the IFNA reported that 95% of those currently using food bank services are doing so due to this. Some food banks are now providing help for double the number of people they used to.
Domestic gas prices have risen by 129% and electricity prices have risen by 65%. Those who were once able to sustain themselves are now finding that they are struggling to decide whether to eat or heat their homes. The situation many have found themselves in is unlike any other time in British history with 41-year high inflation, and the UK has narrowly avoided a recession.
Food banks are not only struggling with the increased demand for services but also the lack of donations is making an already difficult situation worse. If donations continue to decrease, it is understood that 68% of food banks may not be able to provide food for everyone who seeks help.
Giving platform, Neighbourly found that 6 in 10 independent food banks surveyed have received fewer food donations recently from supermarket drop-offs. Inflation has meant that people who would normally donate to food banks can no longer do so. The Trussell Trust reported that food banks give out an emergency food parcel every 13 seconds in the UK, therefore if services are unable to provide this help many will go hungry.
The Guardian investigated the impact of depleting donations. One food bank interviewed reported that they had enough charity donations to run the service without buying food themselves. This is no longer the case, the food bill for January 2023 was close to £7,000. This worrying statistic is evidence of a nation in crisis.
It is hard to imagine an easy way of ending reliance on food banks for many people. The attitude towards food bank usage from parliamentarians has been in the media lately. Tory MP Lee Anderson came under fire recently for suggesting that people who are using food banks simply do not know how to budget and spend their money on things such as cigarettes and alcohol.
Food banks provide a lifeline for those in British society who are most in need. The increase in demand for these services is a sad reflection of how rising energy bills are dramatically affecting the quality of life for so many.
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