Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Hunger Game

Almost 600,000 emergency food parcels were handed out by food banks in Scotland over 18 months, according to new figures. The Scottish charities which distributed the packages between April 2018 and September 2019 said more people were "reaching crisis point". The organisations warned the figures represent the "tip of the iceberg" for those struggling to buy food or feed their family.
They said the number of food parcels handed out during that period was 22% higher than the previous 18 months. More than 1,000 emergency food parcels are being handed out each day in Scotland. There are 52 food banks in Glasgow, compared to 18 branches of McDonald's.
The new figures were collected by the independent A Menu for Change group, a partnership between Oxfam Scotland, Nourish Scotland, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and the Independent Food Aid Network.
It found that:
  • More than 278,000 parcels were handed out by 91 of the the country's 101 independent food banks between April 2018 and September 2019
  • A further 318,214 parcels went out through the Trussell Trust's 135 venues
"A weakened social security system, low pay and insecure work are tightening the grip of poverty and forcing people to crisis point," said project manager Margaret MacLachlan. "The long-term solution to food insecurity is not food banks, it is ensuring people have secure and reliable incomes."
She added: "Today's statistics are shocking, but experts also warn that data on food parcel distribution only provides a partial picture of the number of Scots struggling to put food on the table, with many choosing to skip meals rather than use a food bank. No-one in rich Scotland should run out of money to buy food and political leaders must act now to prevent more people being dragged into poverty."
In Fife, the number of parcels distributed by independent food banks has risen from 25,798 to 40,409 in 18 months.
Joyce Leggate, Chairperson of Kirkcaldy FoodBank said: “Increasing numbers of people in Fife are being forced to turn to food banks in order to put food on the table. We have seen a month on month increase in people coming to us because of inadequate benefit payments, problems with the social security system and low wages. We are very concerned by today’s figures which show the vital role independent food banks have been playing throughout Scotland by offering emergency support for those who are no longer being supported by the social security safety net.”
Mary McGinley, from Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank, said: “It is hard to believe that in modern-day Scotland, more and more people are being forced to rely on foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. But until we see a significant change in direction, inadequate and insecure incomes make this continued rise in food parcels sadly predictable. While it is heartening that people are willing to donate to and volunteer at food banks, there is a real need for change. Politicians must address the underlying causes of rising food bank use rather than relying on charitable organisations and goodwill to respond to food poverty.”

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