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Coronavirus and food banks

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said coronavirus presents an unprecedented challenge, and the trust doesn’t know how things will unfold.

Ms Revie said the trust is working with its network to decide how best to support people and will, wherever possible, continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food.

She said food banks sometimes run low on certain items but, as far as she knows, no food banks in the network are currently running out of all food.

She said the trust will continue to monitor the situation closely and encouraged those wishing to donate to contact their local food bank to check what items they need.

‘Time and again over the past decade, food banks across the UK – aided by a generous public who have donated time, food and money – have stepped up to protect people on the lowest incomes in our communities.

‘But with the spread of coronavirus, we all now face an unprecedented challenge and uncertain future.

‘It is possible that food banks will face increased demand as people lose income, at the same time as food donations drop or staff and volunteers are unavailable, due to measures rightly put in place to slow the spread of infection.

‘All of this comes when food banks are already dealing with a record level of need for emergency food.

‘We welcome the Department for Work and Pensions’ measures that will not penalise or sanction people for self-isolating, but we ask our government to go further and consider additional measures they could take to ensure everyone has enough money for essentials at this challenging time.

‘Ending the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment would be one such measure that could help significantly.’

Last year, the Trussell Trust highlighted the link between Universal Credit and the number of people visiting food banks.

#5weekstoolong: Why We Need To End The Wait For Universal Credit found that, in areas where the new benefits system has been rolled out for at least a year, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have seen a 30% increase in demand.

While in areas where the system has been in place for at least 18 months the demand has jumped to 40%, and 48% in areas where Universal Credit has been in effect for at least two years.

The charity cited the wait between application and first payment, which is often five weeks or longer, as the main cause of the demand. And said that government loans, which are currently offered during the wait, are also pushing more people into debt.

Photo Credit – Trussell Trust

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