SIGNIFICANTLY more local families are using food banks as the cost-of-living crisis shows no signs of easing.
According to official figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, about three per cent of families in the UK – at least 2.1 million people – used a food bank in the year to March 2022.
That rose to about one in nine (11 per cent) for families receiving state income-related benefits.
This increase has been reflected in Fermanagh where John Shades, manager of Enniskillen Food Bank, confirmed more families than individuals were currently needing help.
“The best way of showing this is that we have our volunteers coming in each day to make up food parcels for people. We have bags made up for an individual, for two people, for a family of three or four, and for a family of five and over,” Mr Shades said.
“The bags we make for a family of three or more has risen significantly. It’s much more than in the past and backs up these figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.
“Families are trying to keep their expenses down, and using food banks is obviously one way of doing this.”
It was the same scenario for Davy Phair of the Pantry Food Bank in Lisnaskea where family food parcels were also massively on the increase.
“There’s around a 75 to 100 per cent rise in the number of families in need of help in the area,” Mr Phair said.
“We’ve always had quite a few families in need of assistance here, but the numbers have really gone up over the last year.
“It’s important that families learn to adapt to the new price rises and prioritise what to spend on.”
This comes as new inflation figures released last week predicted that prices will rise even more than expected, with the cost of living rising faster in the UK than in most of the world’s advanced economies.
“It’s not just families that are struggling either. Single people are more in need than ever before as well,” explained Mr Shades.
“We are up more than 100 per cent at Enniskillen Food Bank for food parcels compared to last year right across the board. Everyone seems to be in need.”
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