Thousands of Britons are visiting food banks for the first time

The UK’s cost-of-living crisis is driving food banks to a “breaking point” as the numbers of first-time users surge even before winter begins, the country’s largest food-bank network said.

There were 320 000 new visitors at the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks between April and September — up 40% from last year — according to a report released Thursday. For the first time in the organisation’s history, the need for emergency food has outstripped donations, it added.

“Winter is normally a much busier time of year for food banks,” Trussell Trust Chief Executive Emma Revie said in an interview.  “We are already very concerned about what it will mean for us and people experiencing financial hardship in the second half of the year.”

The charity handed out some 1.3 million emergency food parcels during the mid-year period, of which almost half a million went to children. Each parcel contains three-days worth of emergency food for one person.

Food-bank use has increased in tandem with a surge in UK inflation to levels not seen in four decades. The latest reading in September showed food was a key driver of the overall rate. A separate gauge of grocery-price inflation has signalled that those costs have yet to peak.

UK food banks roughly doubled the amount of money they spent on food compared to the same period last year, the Trussell Trust report said, citing a “tsunami of need.” It also showed that one in five of this year’s food bank users came from working households.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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