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‘Newly Hungry’ Families Reliant on Food Banks Highlight Dual Impact of COVID-19 and Austerity

Numerous food charities report new, persistent users from “middle-income families” through the pandemic

A worker in a visor pushes a trolley of food parcels inside a food bank church filled with surplus food
St. Margaret’s Church, in the Lambeth food bank network
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

U.K. food banks continue to witness unprecedented demand from the novel coronavirus pandemic

Food bank network Feeding Britain reports that the novel coronavirus pandemic isn’t just causing steep increases in food bank use: it’s causing thousands of “newly hungry” to use them, according to the Guardian. National director Andrew Forsey says food banks across the U.K. “now see families at food banks who before the pandemic were able to pay their bills and still be comfortable enough to put food on the table.”

Food bank data released in May, two months into the first coronavirus lockdown, showed usage tripling across the country and nearly quadrupling in London. Research by the Trussell Trust in September then found that food bank use could rise so steeply by Christmas that six emergency food parcels could be handed out every minute across the nation, with the impact of the pandemic broadening the reach of food bank normalisation, dating back to austerity policies introduced by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010. The wider the spread of frequent, persistent food bank use, the harder that normalisation will be to counter with food policy that prevents their existence. [Guardian]

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