Food banks could hand out a record more than one million emergency parcels this winter, according to projections from the Trussell Trust network.
The organisation, which supports more than 1,300 food bank centres across the UK, said there is an ever-growing need as it set out its prediction for the months ahead.
Between December 2022 and February, a total of 904,000 emergency food parcels were provided, but “unprecedented need” could see that figure topped this winter, the charity said.
Based on the average increase in need seen from April to mid-September compared with the same period last year, the Trussell Trust has forecast that more than 600,000 people will need the support of food banks over a three-month period this winter with an estimated one million food parcels needed.
While the three months to February saw more than 220,000 children supported with emergency food from its network as well as 225,000 people using a food bank for the first time, the charity is anticipating these numbers will be even higher for the same period this Christmas and into early next year.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “We don’t want to spend every winter saying things at food banks are getting worse, but they are.
“Food banks are not the answer in the long term, but while we continue to fight for the change that could mean they can be closed for good your local food bank urgently needs your support.
“They need donations of food for emergency parcels, and money to fund costs such as the purchasing of food to meet the shortfall in donations they are currently experiencing.
“One in seven people in the UK face hunger because they don’t have enough money to live on. That’s not the kind of society we want to live in, and we won’t stand by and let this continue.
“Every year we are seeing more and more people needing food banks, and that is just not right.
“Together, we have roots into hundreds of communities, and while someone facing hunger can’t change the structural issues driving the need for food banks on their own, thousands of us coming together can.
“We must end hunger across the UK so that no one needs a food bank to survive.”
The network is urging people to donate to the food banks in their local communities.
Donation levels have remained stable, the charity said, but it added that the continued increase in need is leading to the vast majority of food banks having to purchase stock to make up for this shortfall.
The trust reported that a recent small survey of 282 food banks in its network indicated that in the last three months 93% had to purchase food to keep up with the rising levels of need, while almost one in three (32%) were concerned about being able to continue running at their current level in the coming months.
Natasha Copus, project manager at Southend food bank, said their centres were seeing “unprecedented need”.
She added: “We have had to buy around half of the food we give out already this year and that is not even with the added pressure of heating and energy that people will face this winter.
“It is with trepidation that we face the next six months of being there for people. We ask our community for their financial support, food and prayer this winter.”
Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union repeated a call made by various charities and children’s organisations for free school meals to be extended to all pupils to try to tackle poverty and child hunger which he said “have tremendous social and moral costs”.
He said: “That food banks are gearing up to support even more people than last winter is a damning sign that the Government has failed to support people through the cost-of-living crisis and presided over a decline in living standards.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub