River Network has been operating a successful Foodbank throughout the last year, helping local families with food parcel deliveries and teaming up with brands to help families get healthy foods when struggling this past year due to difficult financial situations. During lockdown this service flourished with an innovative delivery service; this was honoured and acknowledged by HRH The Queen’s representative in Derbyshire, the Lord Lieutenant.

We believe everyone deserves access to a Foodbank, regardless of their circumstances. They help provide support to people in poverty and are not simply limited to food. Access to support from a Foodbank is usually given by professionals, such as people from children’s centres, housing associations, advice charities, and mental health teams. The support offered by Foodbank’s is only meant to be short-term and in cases of emergency. The aim is to relieve any immediate pressure and then offer additional support to try and remove the need for further visits. They can also offer other important items, such as toiletries, sanitary products, nappies, and pet food.

Foodbanks are community organizations that are set up to support households who can’t afford the essentials they need in life and are all charity-based, depending on donations to help them continue their support. Approximately 2.5 million people in the UK currently use a Foodbank service and that number is rising each year, with almost 2 million families using a Foodbank in 2020 and serving 1.7 billion meals, a rise of 300,000 from the year prior.

From 2008 – 2009, just 26,000 people were using Foodbanks, showing a massive increase over the last 12 years.

Over 2000 Foodbanks are operating in the UK today; over 1300 run by the Trussell Trust and over 900 represented by the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN). Between April and September 2019, the number of food parcels distributed by Foodbanks increased by 23% when compared with results from April to September of 2018, from 658,048 to 823,145. This is the steepest increase recorded in five years and around one-third of these were requested for children. Between October 2019 and 2020 there was a 62% increase in emergency parcel distribution, amounting to an 88% increase between February and October of 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019.

Foodbanks are primarily open between 10am and 2pm. At any given hour no more than 20% of distribution centres are open, with fewer than 3% open after 4pm. Where volume of distribution centres and operating hours were lower, so was Foodbank usage, leading to the assumed correlation between in-work poverty, disability, unemployment, etc. and the use of distribution centres to instead be understood as ability to access.

94% of users of Foodbanks were ‘facing real destitution,’ unable to buy essentials to stay warm, dry, clean, and fed. 23% were homeless and over two-thirds of people had experienced problems with benefits in the year prior to requiring emergency food. Over three-quarters of people were in arrears, most commonly rent, and 40% were repaying debts. Around 75% of people reported at least one health issue in their household, over half of which were mental health problems, with 22% being from single parent households and nearly half being single person households. 89% of people were born in the UK and 70% reported at least one ‘challenging life experience; within the past year, including eviction or divorce, with a large minority reporting the loss of a job or reduction in work hours.

Possible aid against food poverty begins with easier access to the money required to live. Groups have been seeking to make the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit, bought on as part of a Covid relief scheme, to be made permanent as the additional money is no longer in effect as of September 2021. In addition, they seek to make the first payment after signing on with Universal Credit non-repayable and available much earlier, removing the need for the five-week wait before your first payment would come through. Finally, removal of delivery charges on food and the minimum online spend for certain suppliers would give people access to exactly what they need when they need it without any extra issues.

River Network links with Sainsbury’s to feed the county

Sainsbury’s are supporting the local innovative food bank, who also delivers ! “We are a bit like an Uber Eats for the marginalised, we’ve also just opened another local foodstore and distribution service” says Terry Eckersley CEO. […]

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