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Food parcel figures released for Dover, Sevenoaks, Gravesham, Medway and Swale

An additional 1,400 children received supplies from food banks in one part of Kent last year - as overall handouts in the area shot up 50%.

In Medway, Kent's largest district, the number of people fed in 2019/20 stood at a little over 8,000 but in the following 12 months rose to more than 12,000.

Garry Lemon from the Trussell Trust

The number of adults and children fed in Swale also increased from 5,353 to 8,215.

Although across Dover, Sevenoaks, Folkestone and Gravesham the figures fell year-on-year.

Other parts of Kent were not included in the figures, which released by the UK's largest food bank operator The Trussell Trust and only included its centres.

This means hubs run by places like churches would push the numbers higher still.

Even though half of Kent's boroughs aren't included the figures show almost 100 parcels were given out every day in Kent in the past year, more than 40 to children.

Food parcels at Canterbury food bank
Food parcels at Canterbury food bank

Despite the dramatic figures and the fact Kent's overall figure for parcels handed out increased, distribution centres were actually cut in Dover and Gravesham.

Food banks in the Trussell Trust's network fed 303,000 people facing crisis in the South East between April 2020 and March 2021.

A total of 122,000 of these were children – that’s one parcel every four minutes on average.

These figures mark a 52% increase on the year before when 199,000 people were fed.

More and more people are relying on food banks
More and more people are relying on food banks

The Trussell Trust says hunger in the UK isn’t just about food, but the people who do not having enough money for the basics.

Across the UK, it is reporting record levels of need as more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels were handed out during the last 12 months; more than 980,000 of these went to children.

The Trussell Trust is now urgently calling on all levels of government to act and is urging candidates from all parties standing in the upcoming May local elections and Mayoral elections to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected.

Chief executive Emma Revie said: “No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food.

"Yet our network of food banks across the South East have continued to provide huge numbers of emergency food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials.

Volunteers unload supplies at a Trussell Trust foodbank
Volunteers unload supplies at a Trussell Trust foodbank

"This is not right but we know we can build a better future.

"This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.

“We are asking you, the public, to write to your local election candidates for a commitment to working to end the need for food banks. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future.”

The charity is asking the public to encourage candidates to make this pledge and stand for change here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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