The Trussell Trust has applauded churches for the immense support they give to food banks all over the country.
The UK's biggest food bank network on Thursday launched an emergency appeal, warning it faces its most difficult winter ever as more people risk going hungry in a worsening cost-of-living crisis.
The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of 1,300 food bank centres across the country, with many in churches, said it had experienced a dramatic increase in levels of need.
It said it handed out 46 per cent more food parcels in August and September than it did in 2021 and forecast it would distribute 1.3 million in the next six months, including half a million for children.
But it warned demand was outstripping donations for the first time, meaning the food banks were having to purchase more food themselves. It said this was not sustainable.
"Faced with the perfect storm of rising energy prices, inflation and a potential recession that is pushing people deeper into poverty, the soaring cost of living is driving a tsunami of need to food banks," Trussell Trust CEO Emma Revie said.
"We never wanted to run an appeal like this, we would rather there was no need for food banks at all. But right now they are on the frontline of this cost of living emergency, we have no other option," she said.
Revie called on the government to provide a package of support directly targeted at people on the lowest incomes.
However, on Monday, new finance minister Jeremy Hunt reined in a vast energy support scheme for households and reversed planned tax cuts.
On Wednesday, households grappling with accelerating living costs were dealt another blow when official data showed the biggest jump in food prices since 1980 pushed inflation back into double digits last month, matching a 40-year high hit in July.
Jessica Foster, the Trussell Trust's head of church engagement told Premier churches are doing their best to respond to the crisis.
"We are so grateful to churches. We wouldn't exist without churches and Christian supporters. A lot of our volunteers are Christians, a lot of our food banks are hosted in churches and churches are literally keeping the lights on for us.
"So many of them are really generous with the way that they host us. We're very grateful and we know how much churches are doing at the moment".
She encouraged people to get in touch with their local foodbank to see how they can support.
"We'd love that if you could do a collection maybe around Christmas time or a second harvest perhaps.
"And do think about lobbying your local governments, your MPs, and just making sure that you understand what's in place in your local community".
Listen to Premier's interview with Jessica Foster here: