Food bank usage across Wales remains at ‘record levels’ – with more than 4700 emergency food packages handed out in Wrexham alone during the last financial year.
Latest figures by the Trussell Trust show that Welsh food bank usage was at 85,656 packages for the three day emergency food supplies compared to 85,875 last year.
Of this number, 31,267 went to children. The Trussell Trust note the figures is a measure of volume rather than unique users and on average, people needed two food bank referrals in the last year.
In Wrexham 4,734 emergency food packages were given out, with 3,005 given to adults and 1,738 given to children.
Wrexham’s figures are down slightly on the 2014/15 financial year, which saw 5,600 emergency food packages handed out. However the county’s figures are the second highest in north Wales – with only Flintshire higher, issuing 5,766 emergency food packages in 2015/16.
Tony Graham, Wales Manager for The Trussell Trust said: “85,000 three day food supplies given out in Wales is 85,000 too many. Hunger is clearly an issue that continues to have a real impact on people in this nation, and that’s why we’re calling on politicians, the voluntary sector, businesses and communities to work together to tackle the issue.
“Our new partnership with one local authority to roll out additional services like money advice and budget cookery courses to food banks in their area shows that this can be done, and it would be great to see this replicated in the other 21 local authority areas of Wales. ”
As readers will be aware last week Wrexham.com questioned Leader of the Welsh Labour Party, Carwyn Jones on various topics including on the extent of food bank usage across Wales and asked him if there was anything more the Welsh Government could do to intervene as it was 2016 and such things were still a necessity in society.
Speaking about food bank usage in his constituency, Bridgend, Mr Jones stated that there are residents refusing rice and pasta because they ‘cannot afford to cook it, that is how difficult it is’.
He added: “Lesley Griffiths has done fantastic work in looking at how do we alleviate poverty. We have schemes like Communities First which have worked well for the past few years. We have other anti poverty schemes like Flying Start – but there is a limit to what we can do because as people have their benefits hammered by the UK government it affects their income.
“There are people working hard who are now losing their tax credits this month, now they are not the people who caused the financial crash in 2007. They are hard working people looking after their families and it’s shocking to see the UK government target them and reduce their incomes.
Labour Leader Carwyn Jones continued: “The key to tackling poverty is to up skill people and remove the hurdles in getting people back to work. This is why we are pledging to provide 30 hours of free childcare for working parents, 48 weeks of the year for 3-4 year olds, because we know once children are past the very early years parents start to look at wanting to go back into work.
“Finding childcare at all or finding affordable childcare is a challenge. What this will do is make sure childcare is available for all 3-4 year olds to give families breathing space to find a job and then of course get back to work and later on perhaps later on to be able to afford childcare.
“Bridging that gap is hugely important and that helps remove the hurdle that many people have to clamber over to get back into work and back to lift themselves out of poverty.”