MP Jonathan Reynolds visited a pop-up food bank this week, to highlight the growing number of people who are forced to seek emergency food parcels.
This year The Trussell Trust – which runs the largest network of food banks in areas that include Tameside – estimates that it will support more than 260,000 people.
They are accessed by those who would otherwise be unable to provide food for themselves and their families – maybe as a result of an unexpected bill or miscalculation of welfare cuts or increasingly because shrinking wages are not keeping up with rising living costs.
There are strong fears that the further welfare cuts due to be implemented in April will lead more people to seek the emergency support of a food bank.
The temporary food bank, set up by the union Unite, was an opportunity for MPs to highlight the work of organisations like the Trussell Trust and growing levels of poverty.
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds said: “Growing levels of poverty are now a real issue – and too many people are struggling to make ends meet.
“There is now a significant number of people who skip meals so that their children don’t go hungry and face a choice between eating and heating, because both are no longer affordable.
“It is the work carried out by the growing network of food banks that now provides a vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“As levels of poverty increase across the country, decisions taken by this government are making it harder for those who are already in dire need.
“People need a government that is on their side during a recession, but this government is more intent on supporting the super-rich than the most in need.”
Following the event, in Old Palace Yard, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "It is shameful that that under Cameron's watch the world's seventh richest nation has become so reliant on food banks.
"The Prime Minister snuck in to a food bank in his own constituency, perhaps because he is ashamed that over 260,000 people are expected to use food banks this year, as a result of his shambolic handling of the economy and brutal welfare cuts.
"That is why we are calling on the government to put an urgent hold on the welfare cuts, due to kick in from April. It is grossly unfair and will hit the most vulnerable the hardest, particularly - children, people with disabilities and lone parents."
The pop-up food bank was set up on Tuesday, as the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill was sue to be debated by the House of Lords.
This Bill seeks to place a real terms cut on all benefits, by capping annual rises to a below inflation 1 per cent. Some 60 per cent of those households affected by this cap will be in work.
The influential Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that as many as seven million working households will be hit by the up-rating cap, by an average of £165 per year.
Published 4 March, 2013