Some Food Banks Are Down To Their Last Few Tins While Demand Surges

Many food banks in the UK’s poorest areas are struggling and report running low on crucial supplies, in an important reminder that summer hits hard for many families.

“We’re running critically low on supplies,” Tricia Ryder, a distribution centre manager at Leeds North and West food bank, told the Guardian. “The summer months are always the time when we get the least donations, but each summer we’re getting more and more attendants. A lot of the people who donate outside of the summer holidays are people that are then struggling themselves when their children are off. It’s really difficult because there may be occasions where people are not getting their regular food parcel because we’re low on certain things.”

The increased demand for food banks has been a growing problem in the UK. Demand always spikes around school holidays, when poorer families struggle to provide their children with meals normally given at school. But under the austerity measures that has been in place for nearly a decade, the demand has surged year-on-year. While the Trussel Trust, the main food bank charity in the UK, gave out 61,500 food parcels between 2010 and 2011, that number rose to nearly 1.2 million by 2016-2017.

More and more people in work, many with jobs that would have once been considered good and stable, have been forced to turn to food banks, due to stagnating wages, an increased cost of living, and brutal austerity measures.

Often, families are hit the hardest — with children missing out on vital nutrition and parents skipping meals in an attempt to provide and make what food they do have spread further. During the school year, it’s easier to paper over the cracks, but in summer it’s just not an option — especially when they may be struggling with childcare costs.

 

In 2018, the Trussel Trust reported giving more than 87,000 parcels to children and almost 240,000 three-day emergency supply kits over the school holidays alone. This was an increase of 20 percent in just a year — and yet, they’re still struggling to meet demand.

While donations normally pick up over the fall and winter, they are desperately needed before then. Some food bank volunteers warned that supplies were likely to be lowest in the first week of September — a double-blow for vulnerable families who will be trying to cover the cost of school uniforms during the same period.

Donations of tinned food, pasta, toiletries, and more can make an incredible difference during these critical weeks. People tend to get out of their normal routines over summer but it’s so important to remember to keep donations going when families need them most.