Food banks fear they will be forced to turn away hungry families during a “bleak” winter as they face soaring demand and supply shortages.
Charity bosses say they expect the number of people in dire financial trouble to shoot up this year because of rising food and fuel bills, the coming National Insurance hike and October’s cut to Universal Credit.
Food bank managers have told The Independent they may be forced to reduce packages – or even turn away hungry families – as they are uncertain they will be able to meet growing demand with extra supplies.
“It’s a worry there won’t be enough food to meet demand,” she said. “But I’m heartened that people always seem to respond generously, because no one wants to see people go without.” Ms Revie also urged the government to “look again at our welfare system”, adding: “If it’s not keeping people out of food banks, then government should be focusing urgent attention on strengthening the social security system.”
Michael Becketts, manager of the Trussell Trust food bank in Colchester, which currently provides enough meals for 1,300 people each month, expects that to go up to 1,600.
“The economic pressures look very much like they’re going to push more people into trouble,” he said. “We have to prepare for it – I have to plan to feed 20,000 people in 2022. My fear is it may be even more than that.”
Sabine Goodwin, co-ordinator of the IFAN network, said the pressure that food banks were under to support an ever-increasing number of people unable to afford food were immense. She added: “It’s essential that the government increases social security payments so that they match the cost of living as urgently as possible. It’s also vital that the rising tide of in-work poverty is tackled through adequate wages and job security.”
The Felix Project said it was aiming to increase our supply to charities across London from over 30 million meals to nearly 40 million meals next year “in the face of huge demand”.