The UK’s biggest food bank network said that 65 per cent of the parcels dispatched between April and September this year were to families with children.
A total of 1.49 million parcels were given out between the beginning of April and end of September - up from 1.29 million in the same period last year.
The charity that 320,000 people have needed to use a food bank for the first time in the past six months and that many were at “breaking point” as demand soars for services.
The organisations’s chief executive Emma Revie, said: “An increasing number of children are growing up in families facing hunger, forced to turn to food banks to survive. A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community. This is not right.
“Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the nation’s health and hold back our economy. People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and forced to turn to a food bank to survive.”
Poverty charities have reacted with alarm to the figures and said they reveal “the scale of suffering in the cost-of-living crisis” and that people “simply can’t make ends meet” in the UK.
Laurence Guinness, chief executive of The Childhood Trust, who work to reduce child poverty in London, told The Independent that demand for its frontline services has “increased rapidly” and urged Jeremy Hunt to tackle the “pandemic of poverty” in his Autumn statement.
“The experience from workers in our front line projects is that demand has increased beyond all possible expectations and our workers are scared this will get even worse.
He added that mortgage and inflation rates have led to “months of rent rises” and that property is one of the “primary drivers” of poverty in the UK.
He said: “There is no relief from those economic pressures in terms of emergency provision...local authorities did have some funds but they are all used up. A lot of councils are not able to offer much additional support as they are on the verge of bankrupcty.
Mr Guinness noted there was no mention of poverty or the cost of living crisis in Rishi Sunak’s speech yesterday, and he urged the chancellor to prioritise tackling escalting poverty in the UK.
“In Hunt’s Autumn statement it would be irresponsible not to address the emergency of the cost of living crisis impacting the most vulnerable people in society...we have a pandemic of poverty in the UK and it is not being addressed as seriously as the Covid pandemic.”
A number of anti-poverty groups have called on Mr Hunt to ensure that he raises benefits in line with inflation when he gives his autumn statement later this month.
Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children UK, said: “The figures released by The Trussell Trust are alarming and reveal the scale of suffering in the cost-of-living crisis.
“The UK Government must raise benefits in line with inflation at the very least at the Autumn Statement to help those struggling the most.”
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “With millions of families living so precariously, there can be no justification for failing to keep benefits aligned with inflation in the Autumn Statement.
“It couldn’t be clearer - families cannot absorb another real-terms income cut. The Chancellor must do right by the children in these statistics and ensure benefits catch up with inflation.”
And Thomas Lawson, CEO of anti-poverty charity Turn2us, says: “Previously, people came to us because they faced bereavement, job loss, relationship breakdown or another life event that pushed them into financial crisis.
“What has changed is that now people come to us because they simply can’t make ends meet.
“With the Trussell Trust providing more food parcels than ever it’s clear that the cost of day to day living is too much for far too many. This is why our government needs to uprate benefits in line with inflation. It’s an immediate step that can and should be taken.”