FOOD banks across Scotland have sent record numbers of food parcels to hungry children despite a cost of living crisis Scottish Government support scheme.

New figures reveal that food banks in Scotland experienced their busiest six months on record for April – September as they provide 116,000 emergency food parcels in six months - over 40,000 more than the same period last year - an annual rise of 34%.

The Trussell Trust, which supports 121 food bank centres in Scotland, says the cost of living emergency has created a ‘tsunami of need’, as people struggle to survive amidst the soaring costs of living.

The charity has called on the Scottish Government to take immediate action saying food banks face "breaking point" and to urgently publish its overdue national plan to end the need for food banks.

It says it had to deliver a record 39,780 food parcels to children - nearly 9000 (30%) more than last year.

It comes during a period when every child under six years old, living in a household with a low income, was entitled to an additional £20 a week from the Scottish Child Payment scheme.

With need outstripping donations for the first time in its history, the charity has been forced to launch its first ever emergency appeal to ensure that food banks can meet the alarming level of need in their communities.

It said that over the last six months, 27,000 people have been forced to turn to a food bank in the Trussell Trust Scotland network for the first time which represents a 33% increase compared to 2021.

HeraldScotland: Trussell Trust food bank. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The charity has warned that food banks are at "breaking point", both physically and mentally, and are set to face the hardest year yet as they expect to provide more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day on average across the UK in the next six months.

New research to be released by the charity next year, finds that one in five people referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust network in the UK live in households where someone is working. The charity says that food banks are seeing more and more people who are working, but still cannot afford the essentials.

Polly Jones, head of Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “Everyone in Scotland should be able to afford the essentials - to buy their own food and heat their homes. This has got harder in the last six months, with 27,000 people needing a food parcel for the first time and a huge increase in children needing our support. This is not right.

“Building on its track record of increasing the Scottish Child Payment from £10 a week to £25, and the extension to all children under 16, we urge the Scottish Government to take further action to deliver immediate and direct cash support to households, as well as urgently publishing the overdue national plan to end the need for food banks.”

HeraldScotland:

“We are also urging the Scottish Government to use all its powers and resources to address financial hardship and the cost of living crisis. Building on its track record of increasing the Scottish Child Payment from £10 a week to £25, and the extension to all children under 16, we urge the Scottish Government to take further action to deliver immediate and direct cash support to households.”

Perthshire anti-poverty charity Broke not Broken has said the financial crisis has also caused the cost of a single food parcel to rise from £39 to as much as £58.

Sue Davies, head of policy with the consumer organisation Which said: “These worrying figures reinforce Which research showing that millions of people are already skipping meals or struggling to put healthy meals on the table in the face of rapidly rising costs.

“It is vital that people get the support that they need from businesses, as well as the government, during this very difficult time.

“Supermarkets must ensure budget lines for healthy and affordable essential items are widely available across their stores. Promotions should be targeted at those most in need and people supported so they can easily compare the price of products to get the best value.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are very concerned about the hardship people are facing as a result of the cost of living crisis. “We are doing what we can to help families, within the limited powers we have. We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year to help households face the increased cost of living, including £1 billion in providing services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK.

“The Scottish Child Payment will double to £25 per eligible child per week from next Monday, when it is also open to applications from eligible under 16s. This represents a 150% increase within 8 months and is an annual support of £1300 per child for eligible families.

“We have also doubled our December Bridging Payment to £260 – an additional investment of £18.9 million, benefiting the families of an estimated 145,000 school age children.

“We will continue to urge the UK Government to use all the powers at its disposal to tackle this cost of living crisis on the scale required, including access to borrowing, providing benefits and support to households, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits and regulation of the energy market.

“Our draft plan on ending the need for food banks received strong public support when we consulted on it earlier in the year. We will publish a final version later this winter. As we said in our Programme for Government, this will need to reflect the cost of living crisis and recent economic shocks that are going to make this work even harder.”