Food banks “will struggle to cope in 2022” as cost of living crisis sets in
Food banks fear they will be forced to turn away starving families during a “dark” winter as they face growing demand and supply shortages.
Charity bosses say they expect the number of people in financial difficulty to rise this year due to rising food and fuel bills, the upcoming national insurance hike and the reduction in universal credit in October.
Food bank managers said The independent they may be forced to cut back on parcels – or even turn away starving families – because they are not sure they can meet growing demand with additional supplies.
Dad’s House Food Bank in London’s West Brompton area, which currently helps 425 people or families per week, expects the number to rise to 550 per week in the coming months.
“We usually see the impact of debt after Christmas, but we expect things to be a lot worse because of the rising food and fuel bills,” manager William McGranaghan said. “The first months of next year are going to be very difficult. We will have a hard time keeping up with demand.
Food banks have said individual product donations have plummeted in recent months, while organizations distributing excess food industry stocks have been hampered by supply issues.
Mr McGranaghan said he was not sure Dad’s House could withstand an increase in the number of people entering for long, as the charity only has financial reserves to buy two to three months of food.
“It is a dire situation,” he said. “It will be a gloomy winter ahead. We just don’t know the limits of what food banks can actually do. I’m afraid we have to say to people, “Sorry, we just don’t have any food”. What we would hate to do.
A mid-December survey conducted by the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) found that 90 percent of food banks have already experienced an increase in the need for assistance in recent weeks, as inflation and the reduction of 20 £ a week from October for Universal Credit has hit home.
Some 30 percent of independent food banks told IFAN they may not be able to support everyone who asks for help if demand continues to increase.
The cost of living in the UK has risen 5.1% in the past 12 months – the highest rate in 10 years, according to official inflation figures released earlier this month.
In addition to skyrocketing fuel, clothing and food costs, changes to the energy price cap will allow suppliers to increase tariffs from April – the same month, an increase of $ 1. 2% of national insurance will affect low income people.
Tina Harrison, who runs Trinity Foodbank in Bury, said she expected the rising cost of living to put even more people in deep trouble next year. She and her team are currently helping 100 people and families a week, but they expect that number to grow to around 150.
“We have received generous donations that will allow us to make it through Christmas, but the next few months will be very difficult,” she said. “We expect the upward trend in demand to continue over the next year. We predict it will increase by around 50% because the picture looks so hopeless. “
Ms Harrison added: “We will do our best, but I’m afraid we’ll have a hard time helping everyone like we have. We may need to reduce the amount we donate. We will have to look for new ways to try and get more food to meet this demand.
FareShare, a national charity that distributes excess stocks to food banks and other charities across Britain, said the lack of carriers and labor shortages in the food business had affected deliveries to its warehouses.
“The winter season seems like a time of enormous uncertainty for us,” said Lindsay Boswell, Managing Director of FareShare. “We don’t know what the impact of supply chain issues will be, but they could lead to a significant drop in the amount of food we can redistribute to frontline charities. “
The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank network, delivered an average of 5,100 parcels per day from April to September, an 11% increase from 2019 as needs remained well above pre-pandemic levels.
Chief Executive Officer Emma Revie said The independent that the network expected a significant increase in the number of people seeking emergency help this year.
“It is a concern that there will not be enough food to meet demand,” she said. “But I’m encouraged that people always seem to respond generously, because no one wants to see people go without.”
Ms Revie also urged the government to “re-examine our social protection system,” adding: “If it does not prevent people from accessing food banks, then the government should urgently focus its attention on strengthening the social security system “.
Michael Becketts, director of the Trussell Trust food bank in Colchester, which currently provides enough meals to 1,300 people each month, expects the number to rise to 1,600.
“Economic pressures really seem to be putting more people in a mess,” he said. “We have to prepare for it – I have to plan to feed 20,000 people in 2022. I’m afraid it’s even more than that.”
Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the IFAN network, said the pressure from food banks to support an ever-increasing number of people unable to feed themselves was immense.
She added: “It is essential that the government increase social security payments so that they match the cost of living as quickly as possible. It is also vital that the rising tide of in-work poverty is tackled through adequate wages and job security.
The Felix Project said it aims to increase our supply to charities across London from over 30 million meals to almost 40 million meals next year “in the face of huge demand”.
Shane Dorsett, Director of Operations at Felix, said: “We need all the help we can get – right now we are asking for volunteers to help us use the huge amounts of good food kindly donated by our supply partners. . “
The government has said recent changes to the graduated rate and work allowance are expected to enable around 1.9 million working families on universal credit to earn an average of £ 1,000 per year. But the Resolution Foundation’s economic think tank said 3.6 million families on universal credit would be worse off due to the end of the £ 20-per-week increase.
A government spokesperson said: “We are providing extensive support to those on the lowest incomes … Our £ 500million household support fund is also helping the most vulnerable with essential costs this winter, and advice received an additional £ 65million to support low-income households with rent arrears.
The independent‘s Help the Hungry, carried out in partnership with the Standard Evening, has helped raise over £ 10million for Britons struggling to access food during the pandemic.