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Soaring costs raise food poverty concerns

More than one in ten people know friends or family at risk of food poverty or who are having to use a food bank, new research from the Charities Aid Foundation shows.

This news comes as inflation hits 9.1% and the average annual grocery bill in the UK is set to rise by £380 this year, according to research firm Kantar.

Nearly 1.9 million children are eligible for free school meals in England, or 22.5% of state school pupils, according to the latest government figures. But as school summer holidays approach, many children could miss out on their guaranteed healthy meal.

The nationally representative survey found that more than one in ten (12%) have friends or family facing food poverty - they are struggling to buy enough nutritious food or having to use a food bank. A quarter of people (26%) have friends or family struggling to pay their bills, and the same number (26%) struggling with the cost of petrol and diesel. A fifth (20%) also have friends or family experiencing fuel poverty.

CAF UK Giving research shows that only 4% of people have donated money to food banks in the last month, with a median average of £10 given. 

Alison Taylor, CEO of CAF Bank and Charity Services, Charities Aid Foundation said:

“The cost of food is increasing rapidly around the world and is set to worsen over the next few months. For those that are able to, we would encourage putting a few extra items in your basket for the growing number of families who rely on food banks. There are usually donation points in supermarkets or local collection services. 

“In addition to keeping up the food supply for the increasing number of people who are relying on them, food banks are also seeing their own bills go up with the cost of fuel and utilities. Consider how you can help your local food bank through volunteering, sponsoring or donating, and remember to add Gift Aid on any donation.”

Dawn Stanford, Operations Director of Nourish Community Foodbank, commented:

“As we approach the Summer Holidays, Nourish Community Foodbank has just launched our annual Hidden Holiday Hunger Campaign. Children going without food during the summer holidays is sadly a UK wide issue, and in the boroughs of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge and Malling that we support, 21% of children are living in poverty,1 that’s the equivalent of one in every five children you see.

“We find that it’s the families where both parents are working hard that are hit hardest, as they often need to find extra money for holiday childcare and additional meals. We ask local supporters to help us provide a family with holiday items to supplement their basic food needs. This can ensure children can enjoy some fresh lunch bag or picnic items that other children are fortunate to have every day. We believe these small gestures can make the world of difference, each child we help eats healthily and as importantly, gets to feel that they aren’t any different to their peers.”

How to help food banks:

Donating food

Over 90% of the food distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network is donated by the public. If you can, consider putting a few extra items in your shopping basket to drop at donation points in supermarkets or your local collection point. Tinned goods, UHT milk, pulses, rice, tea, coffee and fruit juice are all usually needed.

Donating other goods

Many food banks also accept essential non-food items including toiletries, hygiene and cleaning products. Look through your cupboard to see if you can contribute to help people in crisis.

Remember Gift Aid

Remember to opt in to Gift Aid, which can be added to monetary donations and usually for donating physical goods too. Gift Aid is a scheme which allows registered charities to reclaim income tax on a donation made by a UK taxpayer, effectively increasing the value of the donation. For a basic-rate taxpayer, this adds approximately 25% to the value of any gift made under Gift Aid. A £1 donation will effectively be worth £1.25 to the charity, but only if the donation is declared.

Volunteer and fundraise

Volunteers are the backbone of many charities. Food banks often need volunteer drivers, people to sort through donations, and to man the food hubs.
The summer also tends to be when most charity fundraising events takes place. Consider putting yourself up for a sponsored activity to help your local community.

Check in on family and friends

Mutual aid helped many people through the pandemic. Check in and offer help to any family and friends and vulnerable people in your communities.

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