1,182,954 people in the financial year 2016-2017 had to be given emergency food supplies by the Trussell Trust, this is up from 1,109,309 the year before, which itself is up from 25,899 from 2008-2009. A upward trend that is sure to shock even the most stoic among us. The reasons for this increase are easy to see, but sadly not easy to fix. 50% of the people referred are referred because of Low Income and problems related to benefits.
At 1st you may think these statistics are taken from some dystopian sci-fi book, or an impoverished 3rd world country. This is not the case, this is the country we live in. These numbers are unacceptable (Well any number is unacceptable) no one should have to starve. Surely that is a basic Human Right. The dizzing numbers are putting stress on the brilliant food bank system. This sadly is causing it to creak under the strian. Last summer 42 of Trussell Trust food banks had to put out an urgent appeal for food to to keep the food bank afloat. The link between increased austerity and increased use of food banks is easy to see. Pay squeezes mean once you’ve paid all your bills just to have a place to live you have no money left to eat. What a horrid irony, you have a place to live but can’t live as you don’t have enough food.
Lou explained why he had to go to a food bank:
“My salary has remained the same but everything is increasingly expensive, which makes every day a struggle. To ensure we stay afloat I have had to cut back dramatically. All the lights at home stay off and are only turned on when it’s absolutely necessary. The heating no longer goes on and we purchased secondhand blankets from the charity shop to see us through the winter. Meals are cooked daily with anything that is left over and topped up with vegetables.”
However for all this doom and gloom there is a silver lining, it has proved how much we as a society care about people in our society who are vulnerable. Especially here in Cornwall, I started volunteering in Truro foodbank and seeing how the Cornish open their hearts and cupboards to the hungry truly makes me proud to live in such a caring place. We truly live in a special, yes we have poverty like nowhere else in the country, but we also have compassion like nowhere else in the country.
Now I have loads more to say about this and I’m sure I will over the coming weeks but for now I just want to thank everyone who has ever donated to a food bank, you truly can’t begin to understand how much of a difference it makes.
And I hope after seeing these shocking statistics that next time you go to the supermarket market you buy a few extra bits to drop into one of the collection points in the supermarket. Just keep this in your mind next time you go to the cupboard, have nothing and have to go to the shops to stock up.