New figures, released today, reveal that more than 187,000 emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust network to people facing hardship across Wales in the past 12 months.

65 per cent of the support provided in the last year was for families with children. 

This is the most parcels the network has ever distributed in a single year and a dramatic increase compared to five years ago (61 per cent). 

The annual statistics also indicate that an increasing number of people are struggling to afford the essentials, with more than 47,700 people in Wales using a Trussell Trust food bank for the first time.

With a new First Minister in place, the Trussell Trust is urging the Welsh Government to focus on the issues driving people to food banks in Wales by: 

• Delivering a plan to reduce and prevent the need for food banks in Wales

• Streamlining and simplifying Welsh benefits

• Setting clear targets and accountability measures to eliminate child poverty in Wales; 

• Increasing the Discretionary Assistance Fund to ensure crisis support meets people’s needs. 

The Trussell Trust says these efforts need to be supported by the UK Government, and is calling for a social security system that is fit for purpose, so that everyone's income covers the cost of the essentials we all need in life.

Alongside many other organisations, the anti-poverty charity is urging the UK Government to introduce an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ into Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.

Jo Harry, Network Lead for Wales at the Trussell Trust, said: “Wales is seeing more and more people, particularly families with children, unable to afford the essentials needed to get by. This is forcing more people through the doors of food banks than ever before.

“Everyone in Wales should be able to afford the essentials – to buy their own food and heat their homes. This has got harder in the last year, as has been shown by the 47,700 people needing an emergency food parcel for the first time. This is not right. Something has to change.

“The new First Minister must work to end the need for food banks in Wales. With a new child poverty strategy in place and a commitment to streamline Welsh benefits, the Welsh Government has levers to turn the tide of hardship facing our communities. Without action, we will be faced with another generation of children who are growing up believing that food banks are a normal part of life – instead of an extraordinary measure to mitigate the failings of our social security system.”

“Alongside change needed in Wales, the next UK Government cannot afford to ignore this issue and they need to introduce an Essentials Guarantee as a matter of urgency. We live in one of the richest collective of nations in the world but despite this our society leaves so many people behind. 

“In this election year, this is the issue the that we can’t afford to ignore. All political parties must set out how they will build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive. We know what needs to change to help people who can’t afford the essentials and we need parties to act.”