THE rise in the number of people turning to foodbanks to feed themselves or their children is shocking, says Stroud MP, David Drew.

Latest figures from Stroud District Foodbank show a 12% increase from the previous year in the number of emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis.

Between April 2017 and March 2018 over 52 tonnes of food and toiletries were donated and redistributed to those in crisis across Stroud district, a 20% increase compared to the previous year.

The Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks across the UK, has published its end of year figures. It has revealed that the number of food supplies distributed has increased by 13% on the previous year, with more than 1.3 million emergency food parcels distributed.

Almost half a million of those went to children.

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, said:

“I am appalled that more people have had to turn to our foodbanks simply to feed themselves or their children. It is clear that increasing numbers of people are finding it impossible not only to pay household bills, but to put food on the table.

“Many people who use foodbanks are employed, but on such low incomes that they are living on the financial margins. Benefit cuts and the transition to Universal Credit are affecting many and this increase is a tragic indictment of heartless government policies.

“I know that volunteers work tirelessly in Stroud to help ensure that no one need go hungry. I am also grateful to people throughout the community who continue to donate food and toiletries, and their time, to our foodbank. Their much-needed generosity is inspiring, and is a lifeline for many. However, we must not allow an inhumane benefit system to continue in which people cannot feed their own children.”

The foodbank distribution centres in Dursley, Stonehouse, Stroud and Wotton have all seen increases and across the UK, the Trussell Trust has reported a 13% increase in foodbank use.

The foodbank in Stroud District has said it believes the local increase is partially due to people struggling with low incomes, continued issues with benefit payments and transitioning to Universal Credit. The build-up of debt is often an associated consequence of living with low financial margins.

Stroud District Foodbank has been providing three day emergency food and support to local people in the area since 2012.

The Trussell Trust has cited low income ‘benefits, not earning’ as the biggest single, and fastest growing, reason for referral to a foodbank, accounting for 28% of referrals.

The Trust says this category of people requiring assistance has increased significantly increased since April 2016 and says there is an urgent need to look at the adequacy of current benefit levels.