Churches report rising food bank demand as a result of pandemic


Analysis for the Trussell Trust shows that nearly 100,000 households sought food aid from its network of food banks for the first time in April and June as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
food bank shelves filled with food

Demand is set to surge further this autumn as a result of the economic fallout from the virus, according to its forecasts.

The research comes after food banks run or supported by Church of England churches reported rocketing demand during lockdown with some opening food banks for the first time while some opened new food banks after lockdown.

Hackney Church, which includes St John-at-Hackney, St Luke’s Church, Homerton and St Mary’s, Leyton, in east London was distributing parcels with enough food to provide 1,000 meals a week at the start of lockdown. This figure had risen eightfold to between 8,000 and 9,000 meals a week in June after the church opened a second food bank at St Mary’s. It has since served 120,000 meals. 

Food bank volunteer sorting food

Micah Liverpool the ecumenical social justice charity based at Liverpool Cathedral was reporting a 40% rise in demand in May at its food banks.

Ascension Church in Newham, East London, started a food bank within days of the lockdown which was serving around 100 people a week in May and growing. The food bank has provided food for more than 1,100 families so far and is now linked to an advice service run by the church providing support for people applying for benefits.

In Birmingham, a sharp rise in demand at food banks across the city prompted Thrive Together Birmingham, the joint venture between Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Birmingham, to help set up the #FeedBirmingham project, using street collections to help top up food bank supplies across the city. 

The Shildon Alive food bank founded by St John’s Church in Shildon, saw demand surge by 500 percent during lockdown as elderly and vulnerable people unable to get to shops received help. 

Several Devon churches stepped up to host food banks while an ecumenical food bank at All Saints Church in Truro reported a big rise in demand.