THE increase in the number of people needing help from food banks in the last year is unacceptable, Alex Salmond has said.

The First Minister was asked by Jamie Hepburn, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP, what measures the Scottish Government was putting in place to tackle food poverty.

Mr Salmond said thousands more were accessing the food banks and blamed the rise on welfare reforms from the Coalition Westminster Government.

He said: "The Trussell Trust reported that 71,000 people used its food banks in Scotland in the last financial year, a five-fold increase on the previous year, and over 17,000 children have received assistance from Scottish food banks.

"That is unacceptable that so many people have to rely on emergency food provision in our rich country."

Mr Hepburn, during First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament said the UK government told Glasgow City Council the improved reduction of waste by supermarkets was one of the reasons for more people using food banks and that there was no link to welfare reforms.

He said that view, of Lord Freud the UK welfare reform minister, was "detached from reality".

Mr Salmond said that the UK welfare reforms were the cause of people needing emergency food help and criticised Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael for describing the welfare state as "fantastic".

He said that was "not just out of touch with the truth, but out of touch with reality".

Representatives from the Trussell Trust have previously told the Holyrood Welfare Reform Committee one of the main reasons for people requiring help from their growing number of food banks was benefit delays and benefit sanctions.