Food bank use is on the rise
East Lothian food bank is increasing its financial inclusion and anti-poverty work, aiming to end the need for food banks in the area.
Some £150,000 is being invested by the Trussell Trust and other partners to bring support and advice so that people can afford essentials.
The recently launched service has already supported 69 individuals in maximising their income. This has brought in an additional £69,000 in cash for local people, concentrated on the people most in need.
The new financial inclusion and anti-poverty support will help prevent the need for emergency food by providing enough money to help afford the basics in the medium and long term.
People who have already benefitted from this service are frequent users of the food bank and older people who may not have access to the workplace. The food bank is also partnering with Fuelbank to provide emergency fuel top ups for those experiencing fuel poverty.
Elaine Morrison, food bank manager at East Lothian food bank, said: “We know we shouldn’t need to exist, but recent demand has increased the need for our services hugely. That’s why we’re now working in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau and others to introduce new resources to support our community and to provide specific holistic support for people living in vulnerable circumstances.
“We have become a trusted emergency response organisation in East Lothian who deliver support at scale where and when required. It shouldn’t be this way but for as long as we are needed, we will be here.
“For too long people have been going without because social security payments are not based on a real reflection of life’s costs and are being pushed deeper into hardship as a result. We all deserve the dignity of staying warm, fed and protected from poverty and we know with the right financial support, people would not be forced to experience hunger.
“It’s time to guarantee our essentials and for the UK government to urgently change the law so that the standard allowance of Universal Credit will always cover our essentials. By pledging this the government will be taking a crucial step towards ending the need for food banks.”
Over 12,300 emergency food parcels were distributed in East Lothian during 2022/23, the sixth highest area in Scotland, with nearly half of these (4,491) going to children. In 2022/23, food banks across Scotland distributed over 250,000 emergency food parcels, with nearly 3 million distributed to people who needed them across the UK.
A typical emergency food parcel consists of items such as cereal, tinned fruit and vegetables, canned meat and fish, tea, coffee, biscuits, UHT milk, and pasta and rice amongst other items. A food parcel is designed to last a household for three days, and food banks offer access to other support such as benefit advice.
East Lothian food bank is currently running low on tinned fruit, potatoes, and soup, long-life fruit juice and squash, rice puddings or custard, and pasta sauce.