Rise in the demand for food banks across Aberdeenshire
Dozens of emergency food parcels were handed out to children in Aberdeenshire every week during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to a report by the Trussell Trust showing a record 2.5 million parcels were distributed by its network of food banks across the UK in 2020-21.
In Aberdeenshire, the charity handed out 9,690 emergency food parcels over the period. Of those, 3,350 went to children – equivalent to 64 every week.
Aberdeenshire North Foodbank provided 8516 individual food parcels between April 2020 and March 2021 – an 54 per cent increase on the same period the previous year.
The Ellon Centre handed put 912 parcels which was a 151 per cent increase across the board with a 181 per cent increase with parcels provided to children (320 parcels).
Debbie Rennie, Foodbank Manager, said: “Aberdeenshire North Foodbank believes the local increase is due to people struggling with low income, from benefits or loss of work due to coronavirus; continued issues with benefit payments; and the higher cost of food in rural areas and loss of support of family and friends during tight lockdown restrictions.
"We have really well supported in terms of donations form the local community which has been amazing.
"The food bank relies on the support of people across the area. We ask anyone interested in supporting their work to either consider donating food or funds.”
Debbie added: “We also couldn’t do what we do without our fantastic team of volunteers who have really show their commitment to their communities in the last year.”
The Trussell Trust warned its data does not come close to revealing the full scale of demand across the country, with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other organisations that sprang up during the pandemic.
“No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food,” said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.
“Yet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials.
“This is not right but we know we can build a better future.”
The charity is urging the public to write to their local candidates standing for election on May 6, asking them to commit to working to end the need for food banks if elected.
Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said that independent food banks across the UK were also seeing “relentless” need for help.
“Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured,” she added.
“It's the Government's responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials."
A government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and have targeted support to those most in need by raising the living wage, spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions, and introducing the £269m Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay well-fed.”
Aberdeenshire North Foodbank is looking for volunteers in the Ellon centre to help with doing deliveries.
Visit aberdeenshirenorth.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/volunteer/ for further information.