A record number of 125,000 emergency food parcels were dispatched by Trussell Trust food banks in the South West.

This unprecedented demand took place between April and September of this year and  has soared by 13% compared to the same period in 2022.

The new figures indicate the grim situation many are grappling with, as low incomes, social security debt, health conditions, and issues with social security payments such as delays or sanctions force people to rely on food bank support.

It was found that a record 44,638 food parcels were delivered to over 22,400 children within the six-month span of April to September, documenting an 8% increase from 2022.

The data further showed that nearly 63% of all the parcels provided by the Trussell Trust's network were for families with children.

The charity estimates that more than one million emergency food parcels will be distributed between December 2023 and February 2024.

Somerset County Gazette: Food bank use has soared in the South WestFood bank use has soared in the South West (Image: Canva)

This volume would mean handing out a food package every eight seconds during the winter season.

The Trust has also unveiled a worrying statistic – around 25,484 individuals have approached food banks for the first time within the past six months.

This has stretched food banks to their limits, warning they're at a "breaking point."

Emma Revie, the Chief Executive at the Trussell Trust, brought attention to the unnerving situation.

She said: "These statistics are extremely alarming.

"An increasing number of children are growing up in families facing hunger, forced to turn to food banks to survive.

"A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community.

"This is not right."

Emma continued with her urgent appeal, emphasising the wider implications of the rising hardship.

She warned: "Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the nation’s health and hold back our economy.

"People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and forced to turn to a food bank to survive."

Emphasising the pressing need for the government to intensify its efforts in protecting its most vulnerable citizens, Emma called for legislation similar to an Essentials Guarantee.

She appealed: "That’s why the UK Government must build on its work to protect people from increasingly severe hardship and commit to putting an Essentials Guarantee into legislation."

She further outlined a path the government could take: "We recognise this change cannot happen overnight, which is why we are also calling on the Government to urgently confirm in the Autumn Statement that benefits will rise in line with inflation next April, and to reduce the burden of debt deductions which drive unacceptable levels of hardship."

The organisation is encouraging the public to petition UK party leaders to introduce an Essentials Guarantee.

This would ensure that the basic rate of Universal Credit at least covers the essentials, delivering support for struggling families.