“More and more are starving!”, screamed the usual panic-mongers yesterday.
The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.
The Trust is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves.
A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.
The Trussell Trust themselves point out one quite important factor.
It admits that one reason for the rise in the numbers is that there are twice as many food banks in existence as last year.
But the Trust says the number of people using them has still tripled, and that even the well-established food banks are reporting significant rises in their use.
But they forget to highlight another. Their website proudly boasts how many articles have featured them since December 2010. Put it in a graph and it looks a bit like this.
So an increase in supply coupled with significantly increased awareness resulted in a rise in demand? What else did anyone expect would happen?
The only way you could argue that the increases are directly attributable to more food poverty being caused exclusively by government ‘cuts’ (as has been the general thrust of most media outrage) is if levels of awareness have been constant. This is quite clearly not the case – access to the banks has been made easier, and millions more people have been informed of the existence of food banks in the past couple of years, as have referrers such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, citizens advice volunteers and the police.
Contrary to the opportunistic political rhetoric of recent days, increased uptake is proof of how very successful the scheme has been. More people than ever before are benefiting from an imaginative partnership between businesses, citizen donors and a philanthropic charity initiative. It is society and community at its best.
It’s odd that the same people who forever cite availability and publicity as forcing people to buy stuff are now ignoring availability and publicity as factors in more people using a service that is free.