THE true scale of food poverty in Glasgow is unknown despite a surge in the number of people using food banks.

Glasgow City Council bosses say they do not know how many desperate people are living off handouts.

When asked, the local authority told the Evening Times that as groups and charities are not obliged to tell them they can't say how many food banks exist.

They then said they were aware of 46 food banks but could not be sure if this covers all the services in the city.

Nor did they know how many people use these services for help.

The Evening times reported last week that more than 4015 children were using just four food banks across the city in the last year.

The total number of people turning to the Trussell Trust services in Calton, Scotstoun, Govanhill and Ibrox for emergency parcels because they could not afford to feed themselves or their families was 9678 - the equivalent of 87,102 meals.

Ewan Gurr, officer for the charity in Scotland, warned that although the picture of need was much higher in Glasgow than anywhere else in the country this must only be the "tip of the iceberg".

There are many other charities, groups and churches in the city working to feed needy people in their communities.

Mr Gurr said some people were too embarrassed to use a food bank service, while others survived on cheap food. He said this would push the figure for people in Glasgow experiencing food poverty even higher.

A city council spokesman said: "People are under no obligation to tell councils if they are running food banks, so no council could know the number for sure. We are aware of 46 food banks in the city.

"The food bank forum meets every four to six weeks and the social work department asks members to refer any new food banks to them to help with any possible integrated working."

However, it is feared some needy people who seek help may be missing out because of a lack of knowledge about where to turn.

It is hoped a list of all the food banks in the city would help solve this problem.

So, the Evening Times is today issuing a call to those who run the food banks to contact us as we attempt to compile a list of services.

We will publish this list on our website and in the paper so no hungry family is in doubt about where to seek help.

Citizens Advice Bureaux can refer people to foodbanks, as well as JobCentres.

Vincent Chudy, manager of the Glasgow Central CAB, said a definitive list would be helpful.

He said: "As far as I am aware nothing like this exists and it would be great to have it.

"There are so many different organisations helping people across the city that it is difficult to keep track.

"Also, opening times and venues often change.

"We would support this and I think it would be helpful for service users."

Do you run a food bank? Please contact us with location, opening days and times and contact details. Send an e-mail to: linzi.watson