More cash-strapped families resorting to food banks
More than 17,000 people in Kent have used emergency supplies from a food bank in the last 11 months.
Low incomes, changes to benefits, debt and homelessness are some of the reasons why, according to anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust.
Its latest figures show 17,631 people in the county turned to a food bank between April 2016 and March this year and 6,932 of those helped were children.
Medway had the highest number of people seeking threeday emergency food parcels (6,064), followed by Gravesham (3,304) and Dover (1,879).
The Deal area was not far behind (1,866), followed by Faversham (1,417), Shepway (1,344) and Sittingbourne (1,042).
The lowest number of people using food banks was in the Swanley district (715).
The 17,631 total is a rise of 11% on the period between April 2015 and March 2016 when 15,710 people needed help, including 6,233 children.
The figures come just days after charity warned food banks were being put under intense strain after recent disability benefit cuts led to a surge in users.
The Trussell Trust runs eight food banks across Kent.
Its food bank network director Adrian Curtis said: “The main reason for people being referred to food banks for emergency food was problems with their benefits payments – that could be a delay or a sudden change to the level of benefit payment – or it could also be low income.
“It does go to show that household budgets are very very tight and it only takes something to go wrong such as an unexpected bill and people lack the savings to be able to pay that bill and put food on the table.”
The charity’s new report, Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that the highest demand for emergency food supplies is in areas where the new universal credit system for administering benefits has been introduced. It wants the government to reduce the six-week delay that people often experience before they receive their first payment.
Mr Curtis added: “Our food banks tell us clients often go into debt in order to get through that crisis which can have a much longer-lasting effect on a family’s finances beyond that sixweek wait.”
To find your nearest food bank visit www.trusselltrust. org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
Food banks have seen a surge in demand after benefit cuts