Amelia Spanton highlights how food bank usage is on the rise across the UK, in tandem with the cost of living crisis and rising poverty rates. She details that as the winter months approach, supporting non-profit organisations like food banks is especially important now more so than any other time of year.
Why food banks are essential for communities:
The latest statistics from The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank charity, uncover the extent of current food bank reliance. Between 2022 to 2023, the Trust distributed a record number of emergency food parcels, reaching close to 3 million. In their latest report they reveal that their network of food banks have witnessed the highest levels of to date.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports incredibly high levels of destitution - a situation in the UK meaning that many people across the country are “struggling to afford to meet their most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed.” The number of people experiencing destitution has spiralled, up 148% from 2017 to 2022. The organisation also reports that the majority of low-income households in the UK are going without essentials due to the current cost-of-living crisis.
Families with children especially feel the added strain, particularly during the school holidays when food banks face an increased demand without adequate supplies. Charity Action for Children announced in October that one in five parents are in dire financial straits, coining the phrase the ‘cost-of-children crisis’.
These reports paint a picture of how widespread financial hardship is across the country and the pivotal role organisations like food banks play in supporting those in need.
How food banks can help the planet:
Not only do food banks support communities, but they also can play a key role in the future of sustainability and greener food systems. Shockingly, one-third of all goods produced for human consumption are lost or wasted. These high food waste levels harm the environment but can be mitigated through redistribution. Supermarkets and hospitality businesses can create processes to reduce food waste and work with food banks to redistribute food. Charities, such as FareShare, work towards this and create networks of food redistribution across the UK.
Data from the Global Food Banking Network found that globally food banks had recovered 3.75 million metric tons of food, and, through this, prevented over 12 billion kilograms of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere via food decomposition. Hence, supporting local food banks and charities is a win-win, protecting the planet and its people.
How you can support your local food bank and charities:
There are three key ways in which you can help your local food banks, hygiene banks and charities: