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The number of people using food banks in Argyll and Bute has risen by 18 per cent.
A new study revealed that 8,509 food parcels were distributed in the area from April 2018 to September 2019. This is up from 7,195 over the previous 18 months.
The study was published by Menu for Change and Independent Food Aid Network, which combined their findings with the Trussell Trust.
The statistics for Argyll and Bute derive from five independent food banks within the constituency.
Overall, a total of 586,723 parcels were distributed by food banks across Scotland for the same time period – a rise of 22 per cent.
In Oban, Hope Kitchen handed out 350 food parcels over the festive period.
Speaking to The Oban Times, service manager, Catriona Petit, said: ‘It does concern me that in 2020, in one of the richest countries in the world, so many of our community are in a position where they have to face the indignity if asking for food.
‘At Hope Kitchen we are trying to address the underlying causes of food insecurity. By being part of the Independent Food Bank Network we have been able to have a collective voice to represent the needs of some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
‘Our ultimate aim is for our food bank to be no longer needed, but as you can see there is a long way to go to reverse what is an upward trend. If anyone wants to find out more about how try can help challenge food insecurity then please come into Hope Kitchen or contact us on 01631 565730 or email@example.com
‘Remember, if you or anyone you know needs the support of the food bank, please come and see us or get in touch.’
A Menu for Change – the partnership between Oxfam Scotland, Nourish Scotland, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland – and the Independent Food Aid Network say the UK government must ensure people have sustainable and secure incomes to stop them being pushed into food insecurity.
They are demanding the UK government increase the National Living Wage to the Real Living Wage and the rates of all benefits with inflation. They also want the two-child limit and benefit cap to be scrapped, zero-hours contracts banned to improve job security, and for there to be better support for people who experience income shocks through life events such as illness and bereavement.
Margaret MacLachlan, project manager at A Menu for Change said: ‘Today’s statistics are shocking, but experts also warn that data on food parcel distribution only provides a partial picture of the number of Scots struggling to put food on the table with many choosing to skip meals rather than use a food bank.
‘No one in rich Scotland should run out of money to buy food, and political leaders must act now to prevent more people being dragged into poverty.’
Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie said the figures were ‘shocking’, adding: ‘I will continue to fight to ensure that dignity and respect is always at the heart of our social security system.’