Data released on Wednesday shows December 2018 was the busiest month for food banks last year. The Trussel Trusts network for food banks provided 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis; 78,536 of these went to children. This is 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year.
Just weeks ago, the charity published figures for April - September 2019, showing that there has already been a 23 per cent increase in the number of food parcels provided compared to the same period in 2018.
The new figures follow the recent publication of 'State of Hunger', the most in-depth study to date into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK.
The research revealed the average weekly income of households at food banks is only £50 after paying rent. One in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food, and 94 per cent of people at food banks are destitute.
'State of Hunger' shows there are three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health or challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.
The Trussell Trust has encouraged people to donate to their local food bank. The help is provided at food banks across the UK for people pulled into crisis by increased pressure from heating bills, food and other essentials during the lead up to Christmas.
In the run up to the general election, Trussell Trust is asking people to ask candidates across all parties to pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.
The charity's chief executive Emma Revie said: "Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration - but for too many people it's becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water. Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem - food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.
"We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year. There are two simple things you can do to make a real difference. First, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible. Then help us end the need for food banks for good, by asking all your local candidates up for election to pledge to protect people from hunger by making sure everyone has enough money for the basics.
"It's not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year - not just at Christmas. Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank. It's not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It's in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change."
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