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More than 1.2 million emergency parcels handed out at food banks

PIC: Andy Buchanan / PA

The Trussell Trust runs the Abingdon, Witney and Bicester food banks.

The charity handed out a record 1.2 million emergency parcels in the six months to September.

More than 470,000 of the supplies went to children, showing the scale of support during the virus crisis, the Trust said.

The charity added that its figures do not include the number of people helped by community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities.

Food banks in the Trust’s network of 1,300 centres - including three sites in Oxfordshire - saw a 47% increase in need during the crisis, said the report.

The Trust said welcome steps have been taken by the Government during the pandemic, but it called for longer-term action.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Throughout 2020, communities across the country have stepped in to provide vital support to people left without enough money.

“Volunteers in food banks have been working hard under extremely difficult circumstances to make sure support is there for people struggling to afford essentials, but it’s not right that any of us are forced to a charity for food, at any time of year.

“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.”

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 during April to September were low income, benefit delays and sickness or ill health, said the report.

A Government 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.”

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