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The Trussell Trust, a charity working to end the need of food banks, has reported a 15% drop in the number of three-day emergency food parcels it distributed between 31 March 2021 and 1 April 2022, compared to the year before. This was still an increase of 14% compared to the year 2019-2020, before the pandemic. In 2021-22 it distributed 2.1 million food parcels in the UK.

Cost of living crisis

In May 2022, the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN)  surveyed 101 of its organisations representing 194 independent food banks across 94 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. 93% of organisations reported an increase or significant increase in the need for their services since the start of 2022. 95% of organisations reporting increases said it was due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The Trussell Trust opened its first UK food bank in 2000 and operates over half of food banks in the country. IFAN represents food banks outside the Trussell Trust and since 2020 has been collecting data from them across the UK. Both the number of food banks and the quantity of emergency food parcels they distribute has increased over time, with the exception of a partial drop after the Covid-19 pandemic subsided.

How many food banks are there in the UK?

There are over 1,400 Trussell Trust food banks in the UK, in addition to at least 1,172 independent food banks. The numbers of food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust up to March 2022 can be seen in the chart below:

London was the region with the highest distribution of Trussell Trust food parcels in 2021-22, closely followed by South-East and North-West England.

How many households use food banks?

Food bank statistics should not be used as a proxy for the measurement of poverty. For statistics on poverty, see the House of Commons Library briefing Poverty in the UK: statistics. The comprehensiveness and accuracy of food bank data, and the number of food aid outlets in existence, will affect food bank figures regardless of any changes in poverty levels.

In its May 2021 State of Hunger report, the Trussell Trust estimated around 2.5% of all UK households (700,000) used a food bank in 2019-20, prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In February 2022, the Food Standards Agency published data on food bank usage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland gathered by IPSOS Mori between April 2020 and October 2021. The Covid-19 Consumer Tracker showed8% of respondents had used a food bank or a food charity in April. This rose to 11% by October 2021.

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