Posted: 11 June 2020

Food isn’t the answer to people needing food banks

This week’s blog comes from the CEO at the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie who tells us why providing food won't solve the issue of so many needing food banks.

We are working together with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Food Aid Network, Child Poverty Action Group, StepChange and Turn2us to ask the government to do more for families who need emergency support.

Lost shifts and last payslips

In ‘normal’ times, Ruth works every hour under the sun in catering for an events company to provide for her family. But in mid-March, before the coronavirus pandemic had reached its peak in the UK, she found herself at a food bank collecting an emergency food parcel.

She was already just getting by from one payslip to the next – but when all the events company’s bookings were cancelled and she lost her shifts, it was impossible to make ends meet.

Thousands of families on the brink

It isn’t right that Ruth – or anyone in this country – is forced to use a food bank to get by. Each one of us deserves the dignity of having enough money to buy the essentials we need for ourselves and our families.

But now, food banks across the UK are reporting their busiest month ever as thousands of families find themselves in or on the brink of destitution. Compared to April last year, food banks saw a staggering 107% increase in the number of children receiving emergency food parcels.

We all agree this must change. But how?

We’ve heard lots of suggestions that focus should be on getting food to people who can’t afford it. But food isn’t the answer to people needing food banks.

Food can’t cover the cost of heating, lighting, or rent.
It won’t buy school shoes, period products or bus tickets.

If we want to end the need for food banks, we need to focus on getting money into people’s pockets. The unparalleled speed and scale of the increase in people needing food banks has shone a light on how fragile people’s safety nets are.

Councils need adequate funding

In England, this means making sure there’s enough money in the pot for the council-run funds to support households in an emergency – local welfare assistance schemes.

If someone is facing a sudden gap in their income, the first port of call shouldn’t be a food bank – it should be a local welfare assistance scheme. But we need to make sure councils have the funding they need to provide that emergency support.

Together we must act

If we want to protect more people like Ruth from needing a food bank as the economic impacts of Coronavirus unfold, we must act with urgency. Each and every one of us must be treated with dignity and compassion. And no family should be left behind.

We know things are uncertain but with your support, our government could make a real difference to the lives of people needlessly swept into poverty throughout this crisis.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left some families struggling to feed and clothe their children. Years of underfunding have left Local Welfare Assistance schemes in tatters.

Call on the Government today to provide the funding needed to fix our safety net so that we can come through this together.


By Emma Revie, CEO at Trussell Trust

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