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Who is using food banks

Who is using food banks

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Even though the economy is showing signs of recovery, there are still many families who are relying on the support of food banks to survive. You might be surprised that in many instances, these are working families who have no other option. This isn’t a route that people choose lightly and these families are desperately in need of a way to feed themselves and their children.

Why do people use food banks?

Many of those who visit a food bank wouldn’t choose to do so if there was another way of affording the food. A recent Government report found that the majority of users visit a food bank because they’ve lost their job, are on a low income or there has been a delay in receiving their benefits. The increase over the past few years in the cost of food and rising levels of personal debt hasn’t helped family budgets.

Research from The Trussel Trust, a leading food bank provider, showed that over 900,000 people were provided with food through one of their facilities in 2013/14. This figure was up from around 340,000 in 2012/13 and was made up of just over 330,000 children. In order to cope with the demand, the Trust has to open two additional centres every week. The people that visit them exchange a voucher for emergency food stocks to last three days.

There are a variety of reasons why people have to use a food bank stocked by The Trussel Trust. 31% of last years users did so because of benefit delays; 20% due to low incomes and 17% to cope with changes to their benefits.

There are differences across the country in the numbers using food banks. The area where their use is most prevalent is the North West, where 87,500 adults were provided with emergency food in 2013/14. The second highest rate was in the South West, where 68,950 adults received support. Other regions where the use of food banks is high include the East of England, the West Midlands and the supposedly more affluent areas of London and the South East.


Problems facing working parents

who is using food banksOften people presume that the problem of food banks is only affecting those on benefits. However, the reality is that low income workers and average families are also finding themselves in need, even if it is only a temporary requirement. Household budgets can be so tight, that it only takes a small crisis to have a serious impact on what they can afford. Research from an all-party parliamentary inquiry looking at hunger and food poverty found that 25% of those who use a food bank are actually working.

A survey conducted by both Netmums and The Trussel Trust highlighted that 20% of working parents had been faced with choosing between buying food for their family or using the money to pay a priority bill within the last year. The majority of these wouldn’t choose to use a food bank and 70% would only want to if they were really desperate.

Using a food bank

If your circumstances have become desperate and you need the support of a food bank, you will have to be referred in the majority of cases. There are a range of health and social care sources, including a GP, health visitor, social worker or Citizen’s Advice Bureau, who can provide you with a voucher that can be exchanged at a local food bank.



About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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