Changing food bank use

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Food bank statistics can be used to assess change in the number of people unable to access enough food.

Over time, there has been a rapid growth in the number of charitable food banks and the quantity of emergency food parcels they distribute.

Food bank use is driven by economic need – that is, not having enough money to buy food once essential bills have been paid. The Trussell Trust’s network of food banks distributed 1.1 million emergency food parcels in 2015/16, rising to 1.9 million in 2019/20.

There has been considerable debate about whether this is due to economic change, the increase in supply of food banks, or problems within the social security system. See https://www.trusselltrust.org/state-of-hunger/. What we know is that the number of households experiencing destitution, the most severe form of poverty, at any point during the year increased by 35% between 2017 and 2019 in the UK so the need for food banks has certainly grown.

The data presented here is from our 2022 UK Poverty report, setting out the trends and impacts of poverty across the UK. Read the full report at UK Poverty 2022.