A record number of emergency parcels were handed out by the Trussell Trust between April and September this year.
New figures have revealed that more people than ever are being forced to use food banks to get by.
More than 820,000 emergency food parcels were given out in the last six months, marking the busiest period in the charity’s history.
Some 301,653 went to children, a 23 per cent increase on the same period in 2018.
One of the key issues faced by people using food banks is the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, the charity said.
The majority (65 per cent) of food bank referrals made in the six month period were due to a delay in benefits being paid.
Chief executive Emma Revie said: “Our 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.
“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.”
Pushing people to the point of destitution
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “We spend over £95bn 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 over £26m has also been invested in a breakfast club programme.”
Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It should be a source of shame for this government that food bank use has risen so sharply yet again.
“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.”