Coalition of anti-poverty charities calls for stronger support as March 2020 food bank figures are published

1st May 2020

  • The Trussell Trust has today reported a soaring 81% increase in emergency food parcels given out by food banks across its network during the last two weeks of March 2020, compared to last year, as the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to unfold.


  • The Northern Devon Foodbank recorded an even steeper increase of 162% in 3-day emergency food parcels distributed during the same period versus last year, and a staggering 265% increase in food parcels for children.*


  • A coalition of charities, including Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Children’s Society, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), StepChange and Turn2us, are now calling on the government to provide a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme to ensure people facing financial hardship can access the resources they need to stay afloat.


Speaking on BBC Radio Devon this morning, Duncan Withall, Chairman of the Northern Devon Foodbank said:


‘Northern Devon Foodbank is busier than it has ever been.  In response to the Coronavirus we’ve updated all our processes and procedures to ensure everyone’s safety, we’ve recruited a team of new volunteers and we’ve opened a new food bank, operating on a delivery only basis, in the Lyn Valley.


Today’s announcement by the Trussell Trust serves as a stark reminder that the Coronavirus is pushing individuals and families, many of whom were already struggling, into poverty. 


We are extremely grateful for the generosity and support of the North Devon and Torridge communities who are keeping us going.  Food donations through your local supermarket are particularly welcome at this time.


You can also support the call for an Emergency Income Support Scheme by contacting your local MP and asking them to back this initiative.’


The new coalition of charities credits the government with the rapid introduction of a series of significant measures, recognising the Coronavirus Jobs Retentions scheme, additional investment in Universal Credit and the Local Housing Allowance as huge boosts. But the coalition warns these changes are unlikely to offer a strong enough lifeline and would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government to develop a package of measures including:


  • Increasing benefits that go to families to help with the costs of raising children
  • Lifting the benefit cap and two-child policy to ensure this support scheme benefits everyone
  • Ensuring local authorities in England can provide effective crisis support to individuals and families.


We’re determined that nobody should go hungry.  Thank you for your support.


You can find out more about the Northern Devon Foodbank response to the Coronavirus here:


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*Food parcels distributed 18/03/19 – 31/03/19:  199 adult and 85 children

Food parcels distributed 18/03/20 – 31/03/20:  434 adult and 311 children

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