Lancaster and Morecambe foodbank use is above pre-Covid figures as cost of living hits hard

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Foodbanks handed out fewer packages in Lancaster and Morecambe last year, according to new figures, but demand for emergency parcels is still above pre-pandemic levels.

The Trussell Trust, a charity tackling poverty in the UK, supports the country’s largest network of food banks. The Morecambe Bay Foodbank, part of the network, is located on Westgate in Morecambe.

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of emergency food parcels handed out to those in need nationally.

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Figures from the charity show 11,181 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in the Lancaster district area, including Morecambe and Carnforth, in the year to March.

Demand for emergency parcels is above pre-pandemic levels.Demand for emergency parcels is above pre-pandemic levels.
Demand for emergency parcels is above pre-pandemic levels.

Although a decrease from 42,172 emergency food parcels distributed in the year to March 2021, it was up 23 per cent on the 9,135 provided in the year to March 2020, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Trussell Trust said the first year of the pandemic led to exceptional demand for support.

The charity typically hands out emergency packages containing three days’ worth of food. Since the start of the pandemic, it has also started providing supplies in five-day packages, in response to growing need and to limit the number of deliveries.

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Across the north west, 252,048 parcels were handed out by the region’s 235 distribution centres in the year to March.

Joanna Young, chair of trustees at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.Joanna Young, chair of trustees at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
Joanna Young, chair of trustees at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank warned that foodbank use has accelerated in the past six months, as the rising cost of basic amenities has hit people’s pockets.

Joanna Young, chair of trustees at the charity, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances because they can't afford to feed their meters."

Charities in the district say that this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship and at the same time, donations of food from the general public are starting to level off as the cost of living crisis bites.

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“No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank.Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

"We would appeal to anyone who can afford to, to keep donating to us, so that we can meet demand.”

In the year to March, 35 per cent – or 3,940 – of the parcels handed out in Morecambe and Lancaster were given to children, up from 3,678 in the year before the pandemic.

And across the UK at large, nearly 2.2m parcels were distributed in the year to March 2022 – fewer than the 2.6m the year before, but a significant increase on the 1.2m provided five years ago in the year to March 2017.

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Due to a growing number of independent food banks and the existing work of other organisations and charities, the Trussell Trust warns that its figures do not show the full extent of food poverty in the UK.

The Department for Work and Pensions said that it recognises the pressures on the cost of living and is "doing what it can" to help, such as spending £22billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and fuel duty.