Research led by Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby from the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR), has found that the number of children needing help from food banks has doubled during the pandemic.
Professor Taylor-Gooby, who is a trustee of Canterbury Food Bank, found that the demand for children’s parcels had increased by as much as 107% nationwide in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both national and regional data was analysed to establish these findings.
Food banks have experienced an unprecedented increase in provision since the crisis began with many having to restructure the way they operate due to new restrictions. Canterbury Food Bank provided enough food to make 62,838 meals during the first year of the pandemic, compared to 40,950 the previous year.
Canterbury Food Bank has seen a 69% rise in demand for children’s meals in the 12 months since March 2020, even though the area is not markedly deprived. Professor Taylor-Gooby found similar dramatic increases when he looked at national data.
The Trussell Trust, which has more than 1200 members, representing just under two-thirds of food banks, reported that demand went up by 107% for children’s parcels in the second quarter of 2020. Their modelling estimates that demand will continue to rise for the medium-term future. The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) data also shows a rapid increase in provision of 145% over the
February-November 2020 period compared to the same period in 2019. The data is based on 83 of about 450 food banks in its network but does not distinguish between adult and child parcels.
Young adults, many of whom have children, have been disproportionately hard-hit by the economic fall-out from the pandemic according to Professor Taylor-Gooby. He said: ‘Unemployment rose about twice as rapidly during the pandemic for those aged 25 to 45 (to about eight per cent) as against 45 to 65-year-olds (four per cent). In addition, the poorest families with, on average, only about £1,000 savings are likely to have reduced these most during the pandemic. This is as a result of the extra costs of managing children at home, inability to work due to childcare and the costs of home schooling.
‘The Government introduced a scheme to provide school meal vouchers or parcels for those entitled, but this failed to meet targets. Unemployment and lockdown bore particularly heavily on families with children in the Canterbury area as elsewhere.’