The rise and rise of food poverty

The huge surge in people turning to food banks to eat

Food poverty has risen greatly over the past year. Why are so many people relying on food banks to feed themselves and/or their families?

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the start of 2020, you’ve just welcomed in the new year and made your resolution: make this year better than the last.

After struggling through the past year, finding it tough to make ends meet, you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then March 23rd rolls around, and everything changes.

Your reliable, regular income is cut. You find yourself struggling to make ends meet. You have to make the decision between whether you warm your house, or whether you eat.

This is the experience of the 2.5 million adults and children that received an emergency food parcel between 2020 and 2021 (The Trussell Trust, 2021). Over the past year, the use of food banks has increased by 88% (Raj, 2021). Many people found themselves being forced to make challenging decisions after Covid-19 uprooted their lives.

2.5 million people received an emergency parcel in the past year – an increase of 88%.

The Trussell Trust


You may be surprised to discover the group using food banks the most. Single, white, men.

39% of food bank users are single, white men

The question is why.

Given that people of white ethnicity earn up to 21.7% more per hour in parts of the UK than people from ethnic minorities (ONS, 2019),and the gender wage gap lies at approximately 8.9% (ONS, 2019), what is it about the system that is failing these men? Has it just been a tough couple of years with Covid raging war on society, causing everyone to face new challenges? Or does it go deeper than that?

Perhaps it relates to decades of white working-class pupils being ‘swept under the rug’ and forgotten during their educational years (Coughlan, 2021)? Were they not given the opportunities others were to develop themselves early on?

The causation is hard to depict, but if we want to help those 2.5 million people, it’s worth diving deeper into the story in order to understand, exactly, what is failing food bank users.


Coughlan, S., 2021. Poorer white pupils let down and neglected – MPs. BBC News. 2019. Ethnicity pay gaps in Great Britain – Office for National Statistics. 2019. Gender pay gap in the UK – Office for National Statistics.

Raj, K., 2021. UK’s Independent Food Banks: A Lifeline in a Year of Crisis. HumanRights Watch.

The Trussell Trust. 2021. The Trussell Trust – End of Year Stats

Leave a Reply