Child food bank use continues to increase in Buckinghamshire, new data shows

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“A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community. This is not right”

The number of food bank parcels given to children in Buckinghamshire has increased, new statistics reveal.

A total of 8,152 food parcels were given to children across the county from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, compared to 8,007 over the previous 12 months, according to data provided by the Trussell Trust, a charity that works to end the need for food banks.

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The number of food parcels given to children in 2022/23 marks an increase of 266 per cent compared to 2018/2019.

Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse FoodbankAylesbury Vineyard Storehouse Foodbank
Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse Foodbank

The number of adults given food parcels has also risen over the last few years, as has the number of distribution centres.

Helen Barnard, director of policy at the Trussell Trust, told the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is extremely alarming to see the ongoing rise in the number of emergency food parcels across Buckinghamshire.

“An increasing number of children across the UK are growing up in families facing hunger, having to turn to food banks to survive.

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“A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community in our country. This is not right.”

The number of food parcels distributed across South East England as a whole also increased by around 90,000 to 349,400 in 2022/23 compared with the previous 12-month period.

There has also been a marked increase in total food parcels distributed across the UK over the last few years, with nearly 3 million being given out in 2022/23.

The data – which only includes the first three months of 2023 – has been released following consecutive monthly decreases in the rate of food price inflation.

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Wages have also risen more than inflation on goods – including food and energy – at their fastest pace for two years.

However, Helen Barnard said the Trussell Trust still expected food bank use to continue to increase.

She said: “Sadly, we expect these numbers to rise again as food banks are bracing themselves for what is expected to be the toughest winter on record.

“We have forecast that food banks in the Trussell Trust network expect to distribute more than one million food parcels across the UK from December 2023 to February 2024.

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“Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the health of the people, and hold back our economy.

People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and have no option but to turn to a food bank.”

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She called on the Government to “build on its work to protect people from increasingly severe hardship”, including by introducing a Universal Credit provision to protect people from going without essentials.

Arif Hussain, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities acknowledged a national increase in food bank use but told the LDRS that Buckinghamshire has a lower rate of food bank use compared to similar-sized regions.

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He said: “The Trussell Trust figures quoted here for Buckinghamshire will likely include numbers from Milton Keynes and some other neighbouring authorities, so they do not necessarily equate to Buckinghamshire residents alone.

“Buckinghamshire is the fifth largest local authority in the country and when compared to figures for other local authorities of the same size, Buckinghamshire’s figures are lower, but it is true to say that all areas are seeing demand at an all-time high.”

He said the council “continues to work closely and extensively” with local community groups and voluntary organisations to support people who are struggling with cost of living pressures.

He pointed to projects such as the Community Food Chain and the Helping Hand team which helps thousands of residents with food, fuel and other targeted support.

Any resident who is having problems due to cost of living pressures should get in touch with the council’s Helping Hand team online or call 01296 531 151.