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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Foodbank use a “national stain” say charities

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Charity report uncovers the shocking extent of foodbank use

Foodbank use driven by rising poverty levels is a “stain on our national conscience”, according to a hard-hitting charity report.

Below The Breadline states that two million meals were given to desperate Scottish families and that 22,000 children received emergency food aid between April 2013 and March this year.

We celebrate the way our food banks respond to need but we do not celebrate the need that demands their existence

More than 20 million were given out throughout the UK – a hike of 54 per cent on the previous year.

The report – compiled by Oxfam, the Trussell Trust and Church Action on Poverty – puts the blame on welfare changes, low wages and zero-hours contracts, combined with rising food and energy prices.

It reveals that some people have resorted to drinking hot water and lemon to stave off hunger pangs because they have not eaten for days.

The combined charities want the government to do more to help the most desperate in society.

Oxfam pointed to figures which show that the richest 10 per cent in Scotland have 900 times more wealth than the poorest 10 per cent.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "Foodbanks provide invaluable support for families on the breadline but the fact they are needed in 21st Century Scotland, as across the UK, is a stain on our national conscience.

"At a time when politicians tell us that the economy is recovering, too many people need more help to deal with the consequences of stagnating wages, insecure work and rising food and fuel prices.

"The UK Government needs to do more to help ensure the poorest and most vulnerable people don't bear the brunt of turning the economy around.

"No-one turns up at a foodbank out of choice: it is the lack of options which forces people to use them as a measure of last resort."

The report states: "Protecting its citizens from going hungry is one of the most fundamental duties of government.

“Most of us have grown up with the assumption that when we fall on hard times, the social security safety net will kick in and prevent us from falling into destitution and hunger.

"The principle of this crucial safety net now appears to be under threat."

The Trussell Trust's Ewan Gurr said: "Among the 71,000 people Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland provided emergency food to in 2013/14, 22,387 were children.

"Creative solutions and systemic change are necessary if we are to tackle the threat of food poverty and the explosion in demand for emergency food and we endorse the recommendations offered in the Below the Breadline report.

"We celebrate the way our foodbanks respond to need but we do not celebrate the need that demands their existence."