Shock over number of youngsters fed by city food banks

A SHOCKING ­number of children are going hungry in Glasgow with 4015 fed by city food banks last year.

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The demand for foodbanks has soared
The demand for foodbanks has soared

The city had more starving youngsters referred to lifeline services than in any other part of Scotland.

Glasgow also saw the highest number of desperate adults turn to food banks last year, 5672, ­according to figures from the Trussell Trust charity.

The charity said a total of 9678 people turned to four food banks in the city for emergency parcels because they could not afford to feed themselves or their families - the equivalent of 87,102 meals.

This is a dramatic rise from the 659 people in ­Glasgow the charity fed the previous year, 2012/13.

There was only one Trussell Trust food bank operating in the city during 2012/13 - the South East branch based in Govanhill - and there are now four.

But the charity said the Govanhill food bank figures alone jumped from 659 to 4304 in a year proving that the worrying rise is not due to increased provision but rising demand from desperate people.

Of the remaining three Glasgow food banks run by the charity: the Scotstoun-based branch fed 3953 ­people last year; the Calton branch fed 853; and the ­Pollok branch fed 577.

Figures, released today, have raised fears that this worrying picture is just the tip of the iceberg as other groups and organisations across the city are also working to help those going hungry.

Ewan Gurr, Scotland ­development manager for the Trussell Trust, said consideration must be ­given to people suffering food poverty in silence, who are too embarrassed to access food banks, and people who are just coping by surviving on cheap food.

He told the Evening Times: "What is obvious from the figures is that Glasgow is out in front.

"When you look at the numbers for the South East food bank in Govanhill - ­because this is the only branch that operated over the last two years - you don't go from feeding 659 people one year to 4304 the next because the service is more robust.

"This is because of a whole host of new need brought on by issues ­including welfare reform and a lack of employment opportunities."

Mr Gurr added: "The numbers are terrifying. We looked at the figures and we were shocked."

A combination of all the food banks in the greater Glasgow area - also including Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and East Dunbartonshire - shows they fed 21,061 people during 2013/14.

This figure, the ­equivalent of 189,549 meals, is made up of 13,908 adults and 7153 children.

Across Scotland, the Trussell Trust fed a total of 71,428 people last year - this five times the number of people it helped the previous year.

They say most ­people who used their food banks last year did so ­because of benefits delays, low income and benefit changes.

Many of those referred to their services due to low ­income were found to be in work and the charity say the vast majority of benefits changes were sanctions which left people worse off.

Mr Gurr added: "Food banks are an incredible community response to crisis but the pressure people are experiencing in Scotland is cause for concern.

"Benefit delays highlight a faulty infrastructure that can instantaneously plunge ­people into food poverty and the close relationship ­between low income and benefit changes highlight that currently welfare provision is neither working for those in part-time work nor those seeking work."

He added: "You can not ­ignore it anymore. There is reputable evidence that men, women and children are ­experiencing starvation and malnutrition and we have got to address that.

"There must be changes at policy level."

The charity has suggested this could mean changing the sanctions regime in the benefits system, ­increasing the minimum wage and introducing a living wage.

linzi.watson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Food and drink

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