Over a million food parcels given by Trussell Trust last year

28 October 2016
What was claimed

1.1 million food parcels are given out — 1.1 million people who would starve otherwise.

Our verdict

The Trussell Trust did give out 1.1 million parcels last year, but this isn’t the same as the number of people, as people can use food bank vouchers more than once. We don't know how many people nationwide received parcels, but this may be in the right ballpark.

“People are going to food banks, and there were 1,100,000 food parcels given - 1,100,000 people who would starve otherwise and over 400,000 of those went to children.”

Ken Loach, 27 October 2016

Mr Loach is right on parcels, administered by the Trussell Trust, but this isn’t the same as 1.1 million people. His claim may be in the right ballpark considering all food banks, but we don’t know for sure.

Figures from the Trussell Trust, which manages a network of food banks across the UK, did show 1.1 million parcels given out in 2015/16. 400,000 went to children.

That isn’t 1.1 million different people. The Trust reports that, on average, people need two food bank vouchers in a year. So the number of people using the Trust’s foodbanks could be around half the total figure.

But this is only part of the picture anyway. The Trussell Trust doesn’t run all food banks across the UK: it’s previously been estimated that it accounts for about half of all food banks.

That means that these figures will underestimate the number of parcels given out nationwide. So Mr Loach’s figure for people could be close to the reality.

Research published this week also shed light on why people are using foodbanks—and the benefits system takes centre stage.

There is a “strong, dynamic relationship” between people having their Jobseeker’s Allowance stopped and increased use of food banks, according to analysis by the University of Oxford. That’s based on referrals to food banks between 2012 and 2016.

This research isn’t the final word on this issue. It doesn’t include sanctions for Universal Credit, for example, which is replacing income-based JSA and now accounts for half as many claimants as JSA, according to estimates.

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