At Epping Forest Foodbank, we believe everyone who comes through our doors is an individual. We do not believe there is a blanket reason which explains why people find themselves in crisis. However, one thing that we can be sure of, is that the need for our Foodbank’s services has been rising dramatically and shows no signs of easing.
In 2021, we gave out emergency 3-day food parcels to 5,122 people, up from 1,853 people in 2019. In 2013, we only supplied emergency food parcels to 316 people. But even that was 316 too many. This considerable rise has not happened because people have forgotten how to cook or budget. The simple fact is, that there are many more people now than there used to be who do not have enough money in their pockets to make ends meet. People’s circumstances can change in an instant – bereavements, job loss, essential items breaking and bills unexpectedly rising can leave all the best-laid plans in ruins. When that happens, people need support, not a lecture about how to better budget or cook a meal.
Last week, Sumi Rabindrakumar, head of policy at the Trussell Trust, said:
“Research from the Trussell Trust and other independent organisations is clear – that food bank need in the UK is about lack of income, not food. Everyone should have enough money in their pockets to afford the essentials but people at food banks are telling us they’re skipping meals to feed their children and requesting food products that don’t need heating because they can’t afford to switch on the oven. For millions of families on the very lowest incomes, this isn’t a cost of living crisis, it’s about the cost of surviving.
“Cooking from scratch won’t help families keep the lights on or put food on the table if they don’t have enough money in their pockets. Our research shows that people at food banks had on average just £57 a week to live on after housing costs, and no amount of budget management or cooking classes will make this stretch to cover council tax, energy bills, food and all the other essentials we all need to get by. That’s why we’re urgently calling on the government to bring benefits in line with the true cost of living and – in the longer term – to introduce a commitment in the benefits system to ensure everyone can afford the essentials we all need to survive.”
Jacob Forman, our director, said “The people that enter our centres are as diverse as any other group in society. We will continue to welcome all with open arms & without judgement, giving emergency food parcels and signposting advice to support them through their crisis.
Whilst we wish that this need did not exist in our society, we are so grateful that we have an amazing community and group of volunteers, willing to give up their time and effort to make sure that no one goes without. We will continue to make sure that no one goes hungry in Epping Forest for as long as this need remains.”