THE number of food parcels given to children in Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot has increased significantly over the last year.

Trussell Trust has revealed its latest figures for foodbanks, with 1.5 million emergency food parcels being delivered to people between April and September this year across the UK. This is the most every distributed at this point of the year by the charity’s network, seeing a 16 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.

In broken down figures released by the charity, they detail the number of food parcels distributed across each local authority between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023. The figures for Carmarthenshire show that during this period, Trussell Trust’s eight centres across the county provided 4,567 food parcels for children – an increase of 1,392 from the same period from four centres in 2021/22. This comes after the 2021/22 figures saw a drop in the number of parcels given to children based on the previous year when their four centres handed out 3,537 in the 2020/21 period.

The figures for Neath Port Talbot showed that during the same period was 3,171 for 2022/23, 2,038 for 2021/22 and 1,961 for 2020/21, a significant increase over the three years, however, the number of distribution centres has decreased from six to four.

However, the number of food parcels given to adults in Carmarthenshire also rose significantly during the period for 2022/23 with 7,191, an increase of 2,255 on last year’s figures and 5,530 in 2020/21.

The number of food parcels given to adults in Neath Port Talbot in 2022/23 was 5,358, which was almost 2,000 more than the 3,184 in 2021/22 and 3,299 in 2020/21.

Carmarthenshire figures show that in the 2021/22 year, less people needed to use the food banks, but this year, the figures have significantly increased with many more people are turning to food banks, particularly those on low incomes or are struggling with debt, health conditions and issues with their payments.

The Trussell Trust believes that the situation is unlikely to change in the coming months with the new data causing them to predict that food banks across their network will distribute more than a million emergency food parcels between December 2023 and February 2024 – the equivalent of providing a parcel every eight seconds.

Helen Barnard, Director of Policy at the Trussell Trust, said: “It is extremely alarming to see the ongoing rise in the number of emergency food parcels for children across Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot. An increasing number of children across Wales are growing up in families facing hunger, having 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 in our country. This is not right. 

“Sadly, we expect these numbers to rise again as food banks are bracing themselves for what is expected to be the toughest winter on record. We have forecast that food banks in the Trussell Trust network expect to distribute more than one million food parcels across the UK from December 2023 to February 2024.

“Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the health of the people of Wales, and hold back our economy. People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and have no option but to turn to a food bank. That’s why the UK Government must build on its work to protect people from increasingly severe hardship and commit to putting an Essentials Guarantee into legislation, to embed in our social security system the widely supported principle that, at a minimum, Universal Credit should protect people from going without essentials. 

“We are also urging the Welsh Government to do more to support people facing financial hardship, starting with developing a national plan to reduce and prevent the need for emergency food aid. Furthermore, the Welsh Government should ensure that the Child Poverty Strategy targets action on the children at greatest risk of poverty and includes metrics which capture people’s inability to afford the essentials, such as food insecurity, destitution and levels of need for food banks.”

In order to reduce these relentless levels of need, the Trussell Trust is calling on the UK Government to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to build on its work to protect households on the lowest incomes.