(Photo Credit: Shivansh Sharma)

Food Banks across the UK have been giving out more food parcels as the number of people seeking food increased due to the rising cost of food, even after a fall in donations.

Chief Executive Officer of Hackney Foodbank, Pat Fitzsimons said: “This year, we are giving out a minimum of 100 per cent more food parcels than we did in 2019, before the pandemic. It is going up and up.”

Inflation has increased over 11 per cent as of October 2022, driving food and grocery prices to a 42-year high, above 14 per cent inflation.

Fitzsimons said: “Food prices have gone up by 10 per cent. Our costs are rising by 50 per cent next year. We have been spending 4000 pounds on food, weekly.”

The increased cost of living has hit Londoners hard, as energy prices have gone up, severely affecting the cost of food. Even food banks have not been spared. There has been a substantial increase in the number of people at food banks to have food.

The Lewisham Foodbank spokesperson said: “We have been noticing an increase in the number of people getting food for themselves and their families. In summer, we provided around 1400 people a month, and now it is about 2000 people a month.”

Packed food parcels at Lewisham Foodbank.

(Photo Credit: Shivansh Sharma)

The independently funded Lewisham Food Bank provides essential items to many people as a Trussell Trust Food Bank Network member. It has five centres across the borough.

An increase in food costs across the UK has been affecting the price of each food parcel arranged by the food banks for needy people.

The Lewisham Foodbank spokesperson further stated: “In June – July, it cost about 15 pounds to make one package. Now it costs 19 pounds to make one. Moreover, the cost of food packages has also increased.”

Crates of essential food items at Lewisham Foodbank.

(Photo Credit: Shivansh Sharma)

The increase in the cost of food has forced people to rely on food banks to get their daily meals for themselves and their families, making them feel embarrassed about the situation.

The Lewisham Foodbank spokesperson said: “Lots of people who come to us are embarrassed. They have never had to use a food bank before, and they do not want to use it.

“Some people do not want their children and families to know that they come and get the food from the food bank”, the spokesperson added.

During this crisis, research by the Food Foundation found food insecurity; many people have struggled to cover the cost of basic food. In 2022, the prices doubled nationally.

A survey conducted by the Independent Food Aid Network for November 2022 found that food banks have noticed a 92 per cent rise in consumers from August to October 2022.

Volunteer serving at food bank centre.

(Photo Credit: Shivansh Sharma)

There has been a lot of pressure on food banks in the past few months as they gave out more food parcels to people than before the pandemic.

Community Manager at Hackney Foodbank, Farhan Jaisin, said: “I can say that the pressure on the food banks has been a lot compared to before the pandemic.”

The Food Bank observed an increase in the number of people using the food bank for the first time, but there were also students and youngsters utilising the food bank.

Jaisin further said: “There has been a rise in the number of people who use the Food Bank for the first time and it doesn’t only stay on the demography of older people. A lot of youngsters and students have been coming to the food bank as well”.

The Mayor’s 2021-22 Survey of Londoners pointed out that around 14 per cent of children under the age of 16 do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food. This would equal about 237,000 children. In contrast, this number was around 17 per cent in 2018-19.

Current figures are expected to be about 250,000 children without sufficient access to food, and the count might have increased since then, as the survey was completed in the summer.

Volunteer placing food items together in the crate.

(Photo Credit: Shivansh Sharma)

Food Banks have noticed a fall in donations in the past few months as people are battling the effect of the cost of living crisis.

Head of Communications and Fundraising at Hackney Foodbank, Sara Battey, said: “From the stats, more people are trying to access through food banks, but donations are down 53 per cent.”

Working professionals also depend on food banks to get food, as some of them can’t afford to buy food and groceries because they spend most of their earnings on paying the bills.

According to Battey: “Lot of people who work 9 to 5 still need support and not getting that, not being able to access food banks because they have to work.”

Hackney Foodbank has been opening up another food bank for people who work from 9 pm to 5 pm but cannot afford food and groceries.

Battey added: “We are opening up another food bank that will be open from 6 pm to 8 pm. It shows cost of living crisis is getting so bad that even fully employed people have to rely on food banks.”

According to the figures given out by the Trussell Trust, around 1.3 million food parcels were handed out by them from April to September, almost half a million of which was given to children. During the same period, more emergency food parcels were given out than ever before, and the Trussell Trust figures confirmed. The need for donations is increasing for the first time in the charity’s history.