Food banks in Nottinghamshire are handing out more than 500 emergency food parcels every single week, with 40 per cent of them to children.
The UK’s biggest food bank network the Trussell Trust recorded its busiest ever six-month period between April and September, with more than 823,000 parcels provided to people in need.
In Nottinghamshire, the charity says it handed out 14,007 three-day emergency food parcels over the period, the equivalent of 539 every week.
Of these, 5,648 (40 per cent) went to children.
Overall, the charity dished out 2,991 more parcels in the area than it did during the same six-month period just a year before – an increase of 27 per cent.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust warned that problems with Universal Credit were pushing people into poverty, with the five-week wait for initial payments under the system a key factor behind food bank use.
She said: “The benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.
“This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed – our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty.
“It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. This can change.”
“This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.
“We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit, ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living, and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.”
Labour’s Margaret Greenwood said the increase in food bank use should be a source of shame for the Government.
She added: “These figures show clearly how harsh, punitive Conservative policies like the five-week wait in Universal Credit are pushing people to the point of destitution.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We spend over £95 billion a year on welfare, and have simplified the benefits system through Universal Credit.
“Free school meals are provided for 1.3 million disadvantaged children, and more than £26 million has also been invested in a breakfast club programme.”