The number of people receiving emergency food parcels from Epping Forest Foodbank has risen by 22% in the last year.

The foodbank based on Langston Road, Loughton, provided 1,461 three-day emergency food parcels to residents between April 2018 to March 2019.

Of this number, 735 went to children.

The latest figures feed into a larger national picture with a record increase in food bank use across the UK reported by the Trussell Trust.

Epping Forest Foodbank is backing calls from the Trussell Trust to ensure the benefits system is able to protect people from poverty.

Heather Scholer, food bank manager of Epping Forest Foodbank said: “No one, and certainly no child within Epping Forest should need a food bank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food at all.

“It doesn’t have to be this way - our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty.

“Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. This isn’t right.”

Ongoing issues with Universal Credit, benefit payments and reduction in available local government and charity organisation support are considered reasons why food bank usage has increased.

Epping Forest Foodbank has been providing support for people across the district since 2013, with 15 tonnes of food being donated in the last year.

“Until we reach a future where food banks are no longer needed, we’ll continue to provide vital support when it matters most,” said Ms Scholer.

“We’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community without enough money for food are able to access emergency support.

“Our vital work in the community has only been possible in the last year because of the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds.”

A statement released by Epping Forest Foodbank says: “Epping Forest Foodbank shares the concerns of other food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network about Universal Credit – it is not the only benefit payment people referred to the food bank have experienced problems with, but the issues faced by local people moving onto the new system are significant.

“The food bank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting at least five-weeks for a first Universal Credit payment and who are not able to access support or receiving payments that don’t cover the cost of essentials.”

The food bank continues to welcomes any help with funding or in-kind giving from businesses and individuals interested in supporting their work.

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