This briefing is about the use of food banks. Recent research means we have increasing amounts of data on food banks, giving us a fuller picture of their provision across the UK, and providing a more detailed picture of the characteristics of food bank users.

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The primary source of data on food bank use is the Trussell Trust. This national charity provides food parcels to people referred to it by professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and the Citizens Advice who meet certain requirements. Other charities also operate food banks or similar services, but there is no centrally collected data on them, except in Scotland. The data used here is mostly from the Trussell Trust, and so it should be considered incomplete – there are some areas where the Trussell Trust does not operate, but where other services may have delivered food parcels.

This briefing has sections on:

  • The 2000+ food banks in the UK, of which 1,200 are run by the Trussell Trust and over 800 are independent
  • Food parcel distribution statistics including the 19% rise from April 2018 to March 2019 in Trussell Trust figures and the 23% rise in Trussell Trust mid-year statistics for April-September 2019
  • Regional data; the North West being the part of the UK where the largest total number of Trussell Trust food parcels are distributed
  • Food banks and parcels in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with Scottish independent food banks being available in addition to Trussell Trust statistics, permitting a more complete picture
  • Government introduction of food insecurity indicators, following an announcement made in February 2019
  • Other food aid provision, such as meal providers, social supermarkets and initiatives aimed at school children

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