Food banks: Record number of people in north cannot afford to buy food

A volunteer at a food bank. Picture by Danny Lawson, Press Association

FOOD banks in Northern Ireland have seen a record number of people use their emergency supplies.

Figures to be published by The Trussell Trust today show the use of food banks has risen by 48 per cent in the last financial year.

And it said unlike in many areas of Britain, most people in the north use food banks because they are on low incomes.

The charity provided almost 26,000 three-day emergency food supplies across Northern Ireland during 2015/16, compared to 17,425 the previous year

On average, users needed two food bank supplies in the last year.

The trust has several food banks in Belfast, and others in town across the north.

Figures showed that almost a third of food bank users in the north cited low income as the reason why they needed the service.

Other reasons included delays or changes to benefit payments.

The trust also offers services that help reduce the need for repeat visits.

David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said the number of people who cannot afford to buy food is "far too high".

"25,700 three-day food supplies given out by our food banks every year is 25,700 too many," he said.

"This many people needing emergency food must not become the new normal.

"Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort from the voluntary sector, government, businesses and the public, and The Trussell Trust is keen to work with all these parties to find solutions that stop so many people needing food banks in future."

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