Record number of emergency food parcels provided at food banks in Bedford

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The Trussell Trust provided a record number of emergency food parcels in Bedford last year, new figures show.

It comes as support provided across the UK reached record-high levels, with the charity calling on the Government to "build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive".

The national charity operates almost 1,700 distribution centres, where those referred can receive nutritious emergency food.

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Latest figures show 24,478 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in need across its 10 locations in Bedford in the year to March – up from 21,817 the year before, and the highest since records began in 2017-18Latest figures show 24,478 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in need across its 10 locations in Bedford in the year to March – up from 21,817 the year before, and the highest since records began in 2017-18
Latest figures show 24,478 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in need across its 10 locations in Bedford in the year to March – up from 21,817 the year before, and the highest since records began in 2017-18

Latest figures show 24,478 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in need across its 10 locations in Bedford in the year to March – up from 21,817 the year before, and the highest since records began in 2017-18.

Of these parcels, 8,512 were delivered to support vulnerable children.

Across the UK, the number of emergency food parcels provided has nearly doubled in five years, topping 3.1 million in 2023-24.

In 2019-20, before the coronavirus pandemic, just 7,947 were handed out in Bedford.

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An emergency food parcel provided food for either three or seven days. These figures cover food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust, but other organisations may also be providing support to those in need in the area.

The Trussell Trust has called on political parties to commit to tackling the problem, urging them to back a "supportive social security system" and provide better support for parents, carers and people with disabilities who can face increased living costs.

Emma Revie, its chief executive, said: "It’s 2024 and we’re facing historically high levels of food bank need. As a society, we cannot allow this to continue. We must not let food banks become the new norm.

"As we approach the next general election, we urgently need all political leaders to set out how they will build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

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"Voters want to see a change and we need cross-government action at all levels to deliver it."

The Charities Aid Foundation said people donated £973 million to food banks in 2023, up from £635 million during the previous year.

Iain Porter, senior policy adviser at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which works to help people escape poverty, said: "This is not what an economy returning to full health looks like. The latest record-breaking emergency food parcel figures show the painful economic reality facing families with the least."

Mr Porter urged the Government to introduce an "essentials guarantee" to ensure "everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials".

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He said no political party can ignore the issue this election year.

The Government said its cost-of-living support package had prevented 1.3 million people from falling into poverty in 2022-23.

It reiterated it had uprated benefits, raised the state pension and was "raising the National Living Wage, cutting taxes and driving down inflation while investing billions through our Back to Work Plan".

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