The use of emergency food aid in the UK, particularly in the form of food banks, has dramatically increased over the last decade. Research was jointly conducted by Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Church of England and The Trussell Trust to examine why people are turning to food banks, how food bank use fits with their wider coping strategies, and what might be done to reduce the need that leads to food bank use.
Interviews with clients at seven food banks across the UK revealed that the acute crisis that leads people to turn to food banks is often set against a background of complex, difficult lives. Experiences included ill health, bereavement, relationship breakdown, heavy caring responsibilities or job loss, as well as constantly low income. The report shows that action is needed to ensure that the safety net provided by the social security system is vital. It can help prevent life shocks becoming crises, and offer vital protection for vulnerable people.
This report points to practical, measured changes in policy and practice that will help to reduce the need for food banks, and ensure vital support for people in times of crisis.