Dozens of emergency food parcels handed to children in Bedford every week during pandemic
The Trussell Trust warned the figures are "the tip of the iceberg"
Dozens of emergency food parcels were handed out to children in Bedford every week during the first six months of the pandemic, figures reveal.
The Trussell Trust said a record 1.2 million parcels were given to people struggling to afford essentials nationally between April and September, and warned the figures are "the tip of the iceberg".
In Bedford, the charity handed out 4,058 emergency food parcels over the period.
Of these, 1,407 (35%) were for children – meaning 54 were handed to youngsters every week.
Overall, the charity dished out 10% more parcels in the area than it did during the same six-month period last year – an additional 354.
The Trussell Trust said the figures do not include the number of people helped by community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities.
Emma Revie, the charity's chief executive, said volunteers have been working hard to support people in need, but added it is "not right that any of us are forced to use a charity for food, at any time of year".
She added: "In the last few weeks we’ve seen incredible compassion and concern for people facing hunger following Marcus Rashford’s brilliant campaigning, and it's hugely welcome to see the Government build on steps already taken by providing significant new funding for local councils in England.
“This vital local support must work in co-ordination with a national welfare system that is strong enough to act as a lifeline to anyone struggling to afford the essentials."
“This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit us suddenly, with devastating consequences for people’s lives, but it’s also shown we can make huge changes to the way we live and look after each other."
Across the UK, food bank demand in the six months to September increased by 47% compared to the same period last year.
The charity voiced concern that food banks in its network may see high levels of need over the winter and beyond, particularly as redundancies increase.
The top three reasons for someone being referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust’s network over the period were low income, benefit delays and sickness or ill health.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected and we’ve put in place a strong package of support to ensure children and their families do not go hungry during this pandemic.
“Our additional £400 million of funding includes £170 million to help families stay warm and well-fed this winter, a further £16 million to provide immediate support to frontline food aid charities, and £220 million Holiday Activities and Food programme."