The number of people requiring emergency food in the United Kingdom is set to increase markedly over the next three or four years as the full impact of the government’s cuts are felt.
That’s according to TheTrussellTrust, a Christian charity, which estimates that numbers fed by food banks could swell to 500,000 by 2015.
The charity already anticipates that its network of food banks will feed more than 100,000 people in the 2011-12 financial year. Sixty-three new food banks have opened across the network in that time.
In 2010-11 the network fed 61,500 people, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.
The already established food banks are also seeing an increase in demand of between 15 percent and 40 percent.
The loss of jobs and curtailment of hours, the debt crisis and rising fuel and food prices are all contributing factors to people requiring emergency food, according to Jeremy Ravn, food bank director of Trussell Trust UK.
That situation is likely to worsen before it gets better, Ravn told The Baptist Times.
“The fact is this is a three- or four-year government program in terms of cutting back on expenditure. This is still being phased through. We would expect this pressure on jobs to increase,” Ravn said.
“There will then be a time of three or four years before things return to normal levels, so we would expect the next three to six years to be very tough.”
Ravn said this year’s increase in numbers being fed was partly through greater awareness of the Trussell Trust, but mostly need.
Recipients were likely to be people who have lost their jobs, seen their businesses fail or had their hours cut. As winter approaches, this need will increase, with households squeezed by rising fuel charges and Christmas costs.
Setting up a food bank was a practical Christian response of meeting this need, Ravn said.
“There has been a really good response from the church,” he said.
“We are passionate about reaching out to the hidden hungry. It’s our view that every town should have a food bank. In the 21st century, no one should go hungry, and we are there to help them.”