National food bank charity, The Trussell Trust, says it distributed 7,857 emergency food parcels in the year to March in Sunderland – up on the 7,258 packages it passed out the previous year and also up 24% on the 6,324 it provided in the year to March 2020, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The figures show 31% – or 2,403 – of the parcels were given to children.
The figures do not include support given by other food banks in the city which are not part of the Trust network and the charity says its figures do not show the full extent of food poverty.
The food parcels were among 100,114 handed out at the region’s 82 Trussell Trust distribution centres over the year.
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The charity has warned food bank use has accelerated in the past six months, as the cost of living crisis has hit people’s pockets.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the charity, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.
“Food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said that it recognises the pressures on the cost of living and is "doing what it can" to help, including spending £22bn over the next financial year to support people with energy bills and fuel duty.