The soaring demand for London’s food banks
As Britain’s cost of living crisis deepens, thousands of people are turning to food banks for help.
The Bank of England has stated that households are facing the biggest fall in disposable income in 30 years, as energy prices rise and the government cuts back support for working families. Inevitably, this has resulted in a huge increase in the number of families forced to go to a food bank – many of them with two working parents.
The numbers are dire. Research by poverty charity Turn2us found that four in 10 of those on universal credit – about 2.5 million people – would be unable to afford food after the October decision by the government to cut universal credit by £20. During the pandemic, the Trussell Trust reported a 47% increase in the number of emergency food parcels delivered, while more than one in five households have had to choose between heating and eating. Despite this, there has been little coverage of this growing crisis in the media.
Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has written on the effects of rising supermarket prices on poorer households arguing that “a whole section of society is being cut adrift” by these price rises. Indeed, A Food Standards Agency survey published last month found that between April and June last year, 15% of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were food insecure. Monroe also tracks the hidden price rises of many staple foods such as rice and pasta – she writes “Last year the Smart Price pasta in my local Asda was 29p for 500g. Today, it is unavailable, so the cheapest bag is 70p; a 141 % price rise for the same product in more colorful packaging”.
The phenomenon of working-class people resorting to food banks to feed their families is likely to continue as long as prices continue to rise at such unsustainable levels. The rise in energy prices due in April will further compound the misery of many working families, and the burden of helping them will continue to fall on overstretched volunteers, rather than the government.