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Food bank users in East Lancashire trebles in 12 months
THE number of people using food banks in East Lancashire has more than tripled in the past year, according to new figures.
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.
And local food banks said they have noticed a similar increase in demand - if not an even bigger one.
The Trussell Trust said the increase was down to low wages, higher living stands, and delays in the payment of benefits.
The Trust said the problem of hunger in the UK is getting worse, and is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves.
But the government denied that its welfare reforms were to blame, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said there was "no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks".
The government is instead claiming that the rise was down to the greater number of food banks.
Ros Duerden, from Blackburn food bank, said: “It’s more than tripled in Blackburn. I think our figures are worse than that.
“We’ve only been open since last November so we’ve not got a year comparison, but numbers are significantly higher than we predicted.”
Genevieve Waite, from Community Solutions North West, which runs food banks, including one in Burnley, said: “It’s definitely tripled here, if not more than that.
“I’ve not got the exact figures with me at the moment, but I think it’s more than that in Lancashire.”
The Trussell Trust said the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking as they cannot afford to use the energy.
Ros Duerden said that although nobody has mentioned this to her directly, this could be a problem in East Lancashire.
She said: “When we take our food solution out to the guest we tend to go through what’s in the bag and make sure it’s appropriate.
“We’ve had people say ‘I can’t use that’, nobody has said that it’s because they can’t afford to use the energy, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
“People tend to prefer to cook on the hob than in the oven - I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s because it’s cheaper.”
The Lancashire Telegraph has launched a 'Back our Food Bank campaign' to encourage readers to give donations of food.