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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Five times more Scots turn to foodbanks

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​More than 70,000 Scottish households were forced to seek help from foodbanks last year according to new figures from the Trussell Trust

Foodbanks in Scotland provided support to five times more people last year according to the latest official figures.

The Trussell Trust, which operates 40 foodbanks across Scotland, has revealed that 71,428 Scots were forced to ask for food hand-outs last year.

These figures are alarming to say the least. In a modern country as rich as Scotland we should not have people going hungry - Margaret Burgess

A third of the people seeking help from foodbanks did so because of delays in their benefits. Low incomes and benefit sanctions were also common reasons to seek emergency food.

Ewan Gurr, Scotland development officer for The Trussell Trust, said: “The massive rise in demand for emergency food relief highlights the extent to which foodbanks are a lifeline to many Scottish families.”

The Trussell Trust is the largest network of the foodbanks in the UK. In 2011 in provided emergency food to just 5,726 people through half a dozen outlets. This increased to 14,318 people in 2012 through an additional 11 foodbanks.

At the end of March 2014, there were 40 open foodbanks in Scotland. They collected approximately 691 tonnes of food through donations from churches, schools, supermarket customers and various other individuals and groups.

Approximately 482 tonnes of the food donated was distributed to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship within the same financial year, leaving a surplus that will continue to be distributed throughout the current financial year.

The new figures come as the Big Lottery Fund Scotland announced £1m funding to support the development of the Trussell Trust. It will enable the organisation to create another 24 foodbanks over the next five years.

Last week the Scottish Government also said it was investing £500,000 in food waste charity FareShare and £500,000 into other food poverty charities.

Fare Share, which works in partnership with the Trussell Trust in some areas, distributes food waste that is not passed its sell by date from supermarkets to soup kitchens.

The Scottish Government told TFN it was urgently working with food poverty organisations in a bid to open up the other half of its funding, most likely to local foodbanks.

Welfare minister Margaret Burgess said: “These figures are alarming to say the least. In a modern country as rich as Scotland we should not have people going hungry.

“And what is more shocking is that this trend is increasing, with most people citing Westminster’s welfare reforms as the reason. This is a clear sign that these policies are not working.”

The lottery funding will see the Trussell Trust employ a team of dedicated staff who will provide training, support and guidance to new and existing foodbanks across the country. It believes that a network of 64 foodbanks will ensure that every family in Scotland has access to emergency food.

Ailsa Kellett from Eilean Siar explains why she was forced to use a foodbank
“Having worked for many years as a nurse and carer, I moved to the Western Isles for two temporary posts and expected to procure full-time work. However, this was when the economic situation turned; I was forced onto Jobseeker’s Allowance and became homeless.“I have paid into the welfare system for years but when I have needed it most it has failed me. Recently, I have been reduced to mixing flour with water, frying it in oil, coating it in sugar and having that for dinner. That is what austerity does to people like me and without foodbanks, I do not know what we would do.”