More than 4,000 emergency food parcels given out in Northern Ireland last summer, with a third going to children
THERE were more than 4,000 emergency food parcels given out in Northern Ireland last summer, with more than one third of them going to children.
Figures released last night by the Trussell Trust charity showed that a total of 4,156 parcels were distributed by their food banks last summer.
This figure was down compared to summer 2018 when 4,501 food packs were handed out.
Last year, of the emergency food supplies given out, just over 2,500 went to adults while 1,632 were given to children.
The figures have been released at a time when concerns have been raised about the health of children who receive free school meals during the school holidays amid fears they may miss out.
Dave Magill, Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at the Trussell Trust, said Northern Ireland is "already on a cliff-edge".
"Food banks do all they can to help families in Northern Ireland over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare," he said.
"But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.
"Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. We know Northern Ireland is already on a cliff-edge with less than a year to go before we see the extra protections currently available to people under our benefits system come to an end.
"We have real concerns that unless these protections are preserved, families will continue to struggle not just during the school holidays but all year round".
Mr Magill said said the British government "needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether".
"Food banks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger," he said.