Number of children using food banks has doubled since coronavirus

Joe Gamp
·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
CAMBORNE, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 25:  Liam Jervis, 21, who has been living in his car as he cannot afford local rents from the wages he earns from his low paid job, uses the foodbank run by the charity Transformation CPR being run at the Camborne Centenary Methodist Church in Camborne on July 25, 2017 in Cornwall, England.  Transformation CPR is run by local churches and oversees and develops social care projects in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area in partnership with other agencies.  The foobank  is currently providing  between 8000 and 10,000 meals every month to people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. Figures released by Eurostat in 2014 named the British county of Cornwall as one of Europe's top ten poverty areas falling behind Poland, Lithuania and Hungary. Average wages were £14,300 compared with the UK national figure of £23,300 and £20,750 across Europe. UK government statistics show almost a quarter of people living in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) area of Cornwall are in one of the most deprived areas of England with the highest level of childhood obesity, almost a quarter of children aged under 16 living in poverty and the lowest life expectancy.  The area, which has long suffered from severe industrial decline with the demise of the copper and tin mining industries, has not shared in the wealth created in nearby tourist havens such as Newquay, Padstow and St Ives.  Cornwall is the only UK county to have previously received emergency funding from the European Union (EU) and was one of the major beneficiaries of the UK's membership of the EU due to the large amount of funding made available through the EUs Objective One and Convergence programmes.  Despite this voters overwhelmingly backed the campaign to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
There has been a sharp rise in the use of food banks by families and children impacted by lockdown measures. (Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in the use of food banks by families and children impacted by lockdown measures, MPs have been told.

The UK lockdown, which came into force on 23 March, left many Brits out of work and many low income households struggling to make ends meet.

Ministers were told this week how COVID-19 has had an “instantaneous and profound” impact on families, with the number of children depending on the facilities increasing by 122%, compared to the same period last year.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust charity, told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee there was a “disproportionately” high number of young people depending on food banks in the UK.

CAMBORNE, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 25:  Food stocks from the charity Transformation CPR are seen at the foodbank being run at the Camborne Centenary Methodist Church in Camborne on July 25, 2017 in Cornwall, England.   Transformation CPR is run by local churches and oversees and develops social care projects in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area in partnership with other agencies.  The foobank  is currently providing  between 8000 and 10,000 meals every month to people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. Figures released by Eurostat in 2014 named the British county of Cornwall as one of Europe's top ten poverty areas falling behind Poland, Lithuania and Hungary. Average wages were £14,300 compared with the UK national figure of £23,300 and £20,750 across Europe. UK government statistics show almost a quarter of people living in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) area of Cornwall are in one of the most deprived areas of England with the highest level of childhood obesity, almost a quarter of children aged under 16 living in poverty and the lowest life expectancy.  The area, which has long suffered from severe industrial decline with the demise of the copper and tin mining industries, has not shared in the wealth created in nearby tourist havens such as Newquay, Padstow and St Ives.  Cornwall is the only UK county to have previously received emergency funding from the European Union (EU) and was one of the major beneficiaries of the UK's membership of the EU due to the large amount of funding made available through the EUs Objective One and Convergence programmes.  Despite this voters overwhelmingly backed the campaign to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Brits out of work and many low income households are struggling to make ends meet.(Getty Images)

Ms Revie said: “The impact of the pandemic was instantaneous and profound. We analysed the last two weeks of March, compared to the same time last year and we identified that there was an 81% increase in demand and quite alarmingly a 122% increase in the number of children receiving food.

“What this told us was the number of families with children that were coming to us had doubled from its normal levels, so we’re definitely seeing a disproportionately high number of children.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world
Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your local area
6 charts and maps that explain how coronavirus is spreading

“The primary reason why people were coming was because of an insufficiency of funds to buy essentials, one of those being food.”

Ms Revie added that children not attending school was “part of the issue”, but not the whole reason behind the spike in demand for food banks.

Meanwhile, The Trussell Trust said its network had seen its busiest-ever period, with 81% more emergency food parcels being given out in the last two weeks of March.

The charity said demand for emergency food parcels had been soaring over the past five years, with research showing that households referred to food banks are, on average, left with just £50 per week after housing costs.

Labour MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones called for a reform to benefit payments amid the rise in the use of foodbanks and soup kitchens.

Trussell Trust Food Bank box for a family with three children waiting for distribution in the Wadebridge foodbank, North Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The box has been prepared by volunteers and contains non-perishable food items. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
The Trussell Trust said 81% more emergency food parcels had been given out in the last two weeks of March. (Getty Images)

Jones said there has been a “massive increase in demand” in her area of south London, adding new claimants should receive a grant rather than a loan ahead of their first payment under Universal Credit (UC).

Work and pensions minister Will Quince said the department does not have the “capacity” to make such structural changes, arguing staff are focused on helping claimants.

On 2 April, the DWP reported 950,000 successful applications for the payments in the two weeks from 16 March, when the government advised people to start working from home.

The huge increase was up from around 100,000 applications in a normal two-week period, while around a quarter of claims included an application for an advance payment.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter