Wales

Emergency food bank supplies increase in Wales

Food bank cupboard
Image caption People can be referred to food banks by doctors, social workers

The number of emergency food bank supplies given to families in crisis in Wales increased by 3% in the past year, figures show.

The Trussell Trust food bank network said 98,350 three-day food bags were given out from April 2017 to March 2018 - 35,403 of which were to children.

Some 29% of referrals were because people on low incomes or benefits were unable to make ends meet, up from 27%.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was supporting those in need.

Tony Graham, Wales director for the Trussell Trust, said nobody in Wales should be left hungry or destitute.

"For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle," he added.

The trust said delays in benefit payments accounted for 24% of referrals, while 18% of referrals were as a result of benefit changes.

It said referrals as a results of new claims not being awarded, or claimants awaiting their first payments were increasing.

Mr Graham said the figures were a concern as the new benefits system Universal Credit was being rolled out across Wales.

Image copyright Getty Images

People in crisis can be referred to food banks by doctors, social workers and health visitors.

Organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and charities can also issue food bank vouchers which are then redeemed for food.

The first Trussell Trust food bank was started at Festival Church in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent in 2008. In its first year, 76 three-day emergency food supplies were given out.

There is now a network of 37 food banks across Wales staffed by volunteers - 110 distribution centres act as hubs.

The charity relies on donations from supermarkets and the general public.

'Help improve lives'

Cardiff saw the greatest demand for food - 11,480 supplies were given. The Cardiff distribution centre gave 118 tonnes of food to seven food banks across the city.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it's wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

"Meanwhile we continue to spend £90bn a year on welfare to support those who need it most.

"The best way to help people improve their lives is through employment, with people on Universal Credit moving into work faster and staying in work longer."

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