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Food bank use in Cambridge soars to unprecedented levels for adults and children



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New figures released by Cambridge City Foodbank today reveal that 10,249 emergency food parcels were provided to local people who couldn’t afford to purchase essentials between April 2021 and March 2022 – 3,973 of these parcels went to children.

Foodbank (55738642)
Foodbank (55738642)

Cambridge City Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network, which has just experienced one of its busiest-ever winters. Foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people on the lowest incomes across the UK from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. This is a 14 per cent increase on pre-pandemic figures in 2019-20 as more and more people across the country are unable to afford the essentials needed to eat, stay warm, dry and clean.

The figures reveal a country that has reverted to almost Victorian levels of poverty: Statista reports that national use has increased by a factor of 100 – from 25,899 users, when the first first food banks were recorded in 2008/09, to 2,537,198 in 2020/21. There are 300 food banks in 29 European countries, while in the UK there are 1,300 Trussell Trust food banks in the UK, in addition to more than 900 independent food banks.

Food bank use, 2008-2021. Graphic: Statista
Food bank use, 2008-2021. Graphic: Statista

Foodbank believes that the increase in demand is due to people’s finances being hit by the rising cost of living; the impact of the withdrawal of the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit payments; and people not being able to get the right support at the right time due to the pandemic.

The need for foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network has accelerated throughout the past six months, and foodbank managers are warning of a growing crisis following the cut to Universal Credit in October 2021, as the cost of living continues to soar:

- July-September 2021 saw a 10 per cent increase in comparison to the same period in 2019

- October-December 2021 saw a 17 per cent increase in comparison to the same period in 2019

- January-February 2022 saw a 22 per cent increase in comparison to the same period in 2020

Cambridge food bank use. Source: Trussell Trust
Cambridge food bank use. Source: Trussell Trust

Margaret Saner, CEO of Cambridge City Foodbank, said: “The cost of living in the UK and across Cambridgeshire is rising at an unprecedented rate. Before the pandemic, housing and rental prices in our city were already extremely high. Now, all costs are skyrocketing – from big commitments like rent and utility bills, through to everyday essentials, like fruit and vegetables. It doesn’t take much to tip someone over the edge into food poverty – many people are already struggling to make ends meet and the recent rise in energy prices is set to be utterly destructive to many families.

“The generosity of the public, through both food and financial donations, is essential to the continued running of our Foodbank, during what is an extremely busy time, which is only getting worse. We are enormously grateful to the Cambridge community for its support, as well as the help of our dedicated team of volunteers who ensure the Foodbank can keep running for those who so desperately need our help.”

Margaret Saner, CEO of Cambridge City Foodbank, at the Fairbrite shop in Arbury. Picture: Keith Heppell
Margaret Saner, CEO of Cambridge City Foodbank, at the Fairbrite shop in Arbury. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge City Foodbank is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK.

The Foodbank was founded in 2010 by local churches and community groups looking to address the issues of food poverty in the city.

The Foodbank has a range of sites across Cambridge where clients, who are referred to its services in crisis, can access emergency support and food. As a well-established charity, it is instrumental in the development of long-term and sustainable strategies for addressing poverty in Cambridge by providing nutritionally-balanced emergency food and support to local people.

Cambridge City Foodbank also runs a fuel support scheme that aims to address fuel poverty.

Find out how to support Cambridge City Foodbank here.



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