FOOD banks have been handing out the equivalent of nearly one emergency food parcel ever seven minutes to Scots children during the pandemic - but one charity says it is just the "tip of the iceberg".

Some 220,000 emergency food parcels have gone out at Scots food banks run by the Trussell Trust charity between April 2020 and March 2021 - a 63% rise on this time five years ago. That's a parcel every two-and-a-half minutes.

And the charity which said its figures are "horrifying"  says that more than 77,000 of the parcels went to children.

Across 2015/16 food banks in the Trussell Trust’s Scotland network distributed 135,943 emergency food parcels.

The trust is now calling for would-be MSPs to commit to end the need for food banks.

The trust say that the figures are just "the tip of the iceberg with unprecedented numbers" of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups, including many new ones, that provided emergency food during the pandemic.   "Hunger in Scotland isn’t about food," the charity said.

"It’s about people not having enough money for the basics and with high rates of unemployment and record redundancies, more people than ever will need the social security system to provide a strong enough lifeline to stay afloat." 


The Trussell Trust is urging candidates from all parties in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected. 

The Trussell data shows that the number of food parcels delivered actually dipped by 7% in a year - from 238,561 in 2019/20.

Polly Jones, head of Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food. Yet our network of food banks continues to give out huge numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials. This is not right but we know we can build a better future for the people of Scotland. We urge the government to work with us to end the need for food banks.

“We are asking you to speak up for change in your community by contacting your candidates to ask them to commit to end the need for food banks. Together we can take action to build a hunger free future.

“This is a real rise of 63% in food parcels distributed over the last five years. It's a real example of how many people have been let down by the safety nets that are supposed to be there - social security and work - and turned to food banks for help.

"The complacency in accepting that food banks are here to stay is what has driven food banks to call on parties and candidates in this election to do better and do more. Yes, we have seen new policies to tackle poverty, but poverty has continued to rise and we have not had a coordinated approach, the leadership, at national or local level to end the need for food banks.


“Food bank parcels have only ever been a proxy for poverty levels. If you look at the number of groups, beyond the Trussell Trust, that have been trying to keep up with demand by distributing food, or the increase of 31% in applications for crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund, or the claimant count - on all these measures need is rising. This is why we are calling for comprehensive and coordinated action from the next Scottish Government to address this.”

The three-day parcel contains emergency food for one person. During the crisis food banks have also been distributing seven-day parcels.

Trussell Trust says its figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use across the UK.Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: "Independent food banks in Scotland are also continuing to see relentless need for their help although combined Trussell Trust and independent food bank figures represent a fraction of the food insecurity picture.

"Now more than ever, our UK social security system needs to be reset, the Scottish Welfare Fund promoted and prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured. It's the responsibility of governments to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials."