UK food bank users ‘on brink of starvation as demand soars and supplies run low’

UK food bank users ‘on brink of starvation as demand soars and supplies run low’


A UK food bank has warned that its desperate users are at risk of starvation as demand soars and donated supplies run "critically low".

The Edinburgh Food Project had issued an urgent appeal for donations, saying it only had enough food for this week, while hitting out at the benefits systems.

It warned that it may not be able to provide complete food parcels to its clients beyond this week – but it has since been "overwhelmed" by the response to the emergency appeal.

The charity – which has helped more than 11,000 in the last year, a rise of 19 per cent – said it isn't receiving enough donations of food to meet rising demand.

Amid the food bank's struggles, operations manager Bethany Biggar told the Independent: “Until we have a benefits systems that’s caring, compassionate and supportive, a minimum wage covering the essentials, and a workforce that is reliable and secure, we will continue to support those who need us.

"We will not allow people in Edinburgh to starve.”

The Trussell Trust food bank network said a record 1.6million parcels were given to UK residents between April 2018 and March this year, an increase of 19 per cent from the previous year.

It said food bank use in its network has soared by 73 per cent since 2014.

Ms Biggar said the Edinburgh Food Project, which has seven food bank centres in the Scottish capital, relies on donations from the public.

Without them, she said, it “simply would not be able to help people living in poverty”.

She said the food bank has helped 11,402 people over the last 12 months, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year.

Between January and April this year, there have been 4,530 food parcel requests – a rise of 47 per cent up on the same four-month period in 2018.

Food parcels contain three daily meals with three days of supplies.

Of those helped by the Edinburgh Food Project, which is part of the Trussell Trust network, 25 per cent have suffered changes to benefits and delays to benefit payments, the charity said.

These reasons were the most common ones for their dependence on food banks.

One case involved a mum-of-two whose housing benefit was cut because her elderly parent was living with her until she moved to a care home, the charity said.

More than half (53 per cent) said low income was the reason they turned to a food bank for help.

Other reasons included homelessness, debt, sickness and domestic violence.

After donors answered the call to Friday's urgent appeal, the Edinburgh Food Project wrote on Twitter : "We are overwhelmed with the response to our emergency appeal on Friday!

"Thank you to everyone who has liked, shared and commented on our post. The more people who see it, the more help we receive!"

Food banks across the UK have reported a rise in demand this year.

The Trussell Trust said it gives out more food parcels in the North West of England than anywhere else in the country, and demand has gone up by 25 per cent this year alone, ITV News reported.

The North West was followed by Scotland, London, the South East of England and the West Midlands.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told Mirror Online: "The reasons for people using food banks are complex.

"Meanwhile for those who need extra support, the UK Government spends over £90 billion a year on support for those who need it, including those who are on a low income.

“In addition, Scotland has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”

According to new figures released earlier this month, the number of people in work continues to reach near record levels, and the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level for more than 40 years.

Employment jumped by 99,000 in the three months to March, to 32.7 million, the third highest total since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.3 million, continuing a general trend which started in early 2012.

The UK's unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent is now lower than at any time since the end of 1974, reported the Office for National Statistics.

Wage growth stalled after several months of increases.

Average earnings increased by 3.2 per cent in the year to February, compared with 3.5 per cent on the previous month.

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