The Trussell Trust, which has a network of UK food banks in churches, forecasts a 61 per cent increase in food parcels from October to December, equating to 846,000 food parcels being given out.
Its new report entitled 'Lockdown, Lifelines and the Long Haul Ahead', reveals that during the start of the pandemic, around half of people who used a food bank had never needed one before.
CEO of the Trussell Trust Emma Revie, told Premier although winter is usually a busy time for food banks, the furlough scheme ending adds to the pressure.
"As we see the furlough scheme come to an end, that's going to be a large driver of why we see additional people coming to food banks," she said.
"When we look back at the early stages of pandemic, only 4 per cent of people who were coming to food banks had been furloughed. So what we know, therefore, is that the furlough scheme was protecting a large number of people from falling through the safety net and ending up needing emergency food. As that winds down, we anticipate a significant increase in unemployment and people needing to turn to emergency foods to get by."
The charity warns that with mass unemployment predicted on a scale not seen since the early nineties, there will be further rises in poverty with 670,000 additional people classed as destitute by the end of 2020, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy and food. This is on top of year-on-year rises in the number of people unable to afford food and who are forced to visit food banks across the UK.
Revie told Premier it's not fair for there to be so much pressure on food bank volunteers and people struggling through the coronavirus crisis.
"I no longer underestimate what our food banks can do, because if you had asked me ahead of March, if they would have been able to sustain the 89 per cent increase in footfall we saw in the early part of the year, I would have said absolutely no way. And so people are incredible. Our volunteers are incredible. The people in local communities are incredible. Churches are incredible at what they can do.
"But I think the other question to ask is, is it right that people should have to depend on food banks? In those situations, if you find yourself losing your job or becoming unwell as a result of COVID, should you have to depend on donated food in order to be able to look after your family?
"I would say it's not right that anyone should have to depend on a food bank."
The Trussell Trust has urged the Government to extend the furlough scheme past October, invest £250 million in local welfare assistance, and lock in the £20 rise to Universal Credit brought in at the start of the pandemic.
Listen to Premier's interview with Emma Revie here: