Dozens of emergency food parcels per week given to Bedford children during pandemic
Charity is calling on the government to end need for food banks once and for all
Dozens of emergency food parcels were handed out to children in Bedford every week during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to a report by the Trussell Trust showing a record 2.5 million parcels were distributed by its network of food banks across the UK in 2020-21.
The charity is urgently calling on UK governments to end the need for food banks once and for all amid soaring demand for help from families in crisis.
In Bedford, the charity handed out 9,185 emergency food parcels over the period.
Of those, 3,196 went to children – equivalent to 61 every week.
The overall figure, which includes parcels with three or seven days’ worth of supplies, was a 16 per cent increase on the total number recorded the previous year.
But the charity warned its data does not come close to revealing the full scale of demand across the country, with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other organisations that sprang up during the pandemic.
“No-one should face the indignity of needing emergency food,” said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.
“Yet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials.
“This is not right but we know we can build a better future.”
The charity is urging the public to write to their local candidates standing for election on May 6, asking them to commit to working to end the need for food banks if elected.
It is also calling on all levels of UK government to develop a plan to end the need for their use.
Across the UK, the 2.5 million parcels handed out in 2020-21 represented a 33 per cent increase on the previous year.
Of those, around 980,000 (39 per cent) went to children.
Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said that independent food banks across the UK were also seeing “relentless” need for help.
“Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured,” she added.
“It's the Government's responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials."
A government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and have targeted support to those most in need by raising the living wage, spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions, and introducing the £269million Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay well-fed.
“We know that getting into well-paid work is the best route out of poverty, and our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country re-join the workforce as restrictions are eased.”