New figures from the Trussell Trust – a nationwide network of food banks, including in Oswestry, Market Drayton, Whitchurch and over the border in Welshpool – has revealed unprecedented levels of demand.
In the West Midlands, there has been a staggering 129 per cent increase in the amount of emergency food parcels distributed through the Trust network in the last five years.
In 2017 to 2018, a total of 121,048 food parcels were given out to children and adults in the region – this has risen to a shocking 278,230 in 2022 to 2023.
Food banks have reportedly seen a fall in the number of donations, as families feel the full impact of the cost of living crisis.
But despite this, food bank volunteers are continuing to do all they can to cope with the huge rise in the number of meals they are providing.
Helen McSherry, manager of Market Drayton Foodbank which is part of the Trust, said: "The cost of living crisis especially, has really increased the need for food parcels – and that is the case in Market Drayton.
"We have seen that increase in Drayton since October 2022 and people are coming in especially because of the energy crisis and the fact they have got bills increasing two to three fold.
"But for those people who are on a finite amount of money, it is very difficult.
"People used to come to the foodbank to help to pay their energy bill, but it's just not touching the side now and the cost of food is more expensive and donations are down because people can't afford to give to us.
"The volunteers are doing their best with the signposting – 50 per cent of what we do is give out food and the other 50 per cent is to steer people in the right direction to get the help they need."
Helen went on to say that the team will continue to work towards the Trussell Trust's goal of ending the UK's dependence on foodbanks.
Food banks were set up to provide short-term support to people in an emergency, the Trust says, and they are not a lasting solution to hunger and poverty.
Close to three million emergency food parcels were distributed by food banks in the Trust network in the last 12 months, with 760,000 people using a food bank for the first time.
Liz Jermy, the manager of Oswestry Foodbank added: “In the last financial year 22/23, Oswestry and Borders Food Bank helped 6,904 people and gave away 61 tonnes of food. In the year ending 21/22 the food bank helped 4,660 people.
“As a result of the increase in need, the food bank has spent over £26,000 this last financial year on food purchases alone.
“This is in addition to the donations of food coming in from all over North Shropshire, from supermarkets and their amazing customers, from churches, charities, corporates and individuals.
“This has been a necessity to keep up with the demand for our services – the shelves empty in the stockroom and warehouse as fast as they are restocked. It is a first in 12 years for us to see shelves this sparse.”
To find out more about the Trussell Trust or to view the latest statistics, visit trusselltrust.org