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UK food charities report busiest April ever

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-05 09:40

The UK's biggest food bank network said there has been an 89 percent increase in emergency food parcels. THE TRUSSELL TRUST

The number of families with children receiving food parcels in the United Kingdom has almost doubled compared to the same period last year, according to a food bank charity.

A coalition of poverty charities has now called on the government to provide more funding for councils so that emergency cash grants are quickly distributed to families in need during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Trussell Trust, a charity supporting a network of food-banks, said April was their busiest month ever, with 89 percent more emergency food parcels handed to people across the UK compared with 2019.

The number of food parcels going to families with children increased 95 percent, according the trust, whose data is based on 351 of the 425 food bank charities in the Trussell Trust network.

Meanwhile, the Independent Food Aid Network reported a 175 percent increase in need over the same period.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, described the number of people using food banks as unprecedented.

"People need to be able to put food on their table. The government must put urgent support in place to ensure people already struggling to keep their heads above water can stay afloat," she said.

"We have outlined what we need our government to do-it's in our power to protect one another, we've seen it during this health crisis, and we need it to continue during this economic one."

Charities said that measures brought in by the government, such as the jobs retention scheme and self-employment income support scheme, have helped some people, but more needs to be done as these schemes are set to wind down over the coming months.

The charity coalition, including Child Poverty Action Group, The Children's Society, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Step-Change and Turn2us, called on local authorities in England to have enough funding to provide emergency cash grants so money can be put directly into people's pockets quickly.

The charities also want to see increase of benefits that go to families to help with the costs of raising children, the suspension of benefit deductions to include advance payments, and lifting the benefit cap to ensure this support scheme benefits everyone.

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: "Our food bank figures paint a grim picture of what is unfolding across the UK and the numbers of people having to resort to emergency food parcels to survive. But the solution to the escalating food insecurity crisis has never been the provision of charitable food aid. Everyone needs to be able to afford to buy food and the bare essentials. Our joint call details how this can start to be achieved and we urge the government to act swiftly and decisively to reverse this devastating trend."

Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham added:"No parent wants to depend on charity to feed their own child but it is clear that food banks are becoming the only option for a growing number of families whose finances have all but collapsed because of COVID-19. Struggle is turning to real hardship. The Government has quickly put in place unprecedented and very welcome schemes to support family finances in the wake of COVID-19, but too many households are falling through the gaps."

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