Bishop Terry has backed a charity’s call for churches to help build a hunger-free future as the use of food bank soars.
Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network gave out 1.2m emergency food parcels between April and September last year.
But the UK’s largest food bank charity says that was only made possible through the support of volunteers, businesses, community groups, the general public and nearly 12,000 churches across the UK, which play a vital part in the Trussell Trust network.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need for emergency food provision, and churches, faith groups and community groups have been at the heart of responding to this need, stepping up existing provision as well as developing new initiatives.
Bishop Terry, chair of Caritas Social Action Network, said: “Churches are playing a crucial role in supporting people who are struggling to afford the essentials. Over the past year, the need for such support has sadly increased, with many families and individuals suffering as a result of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“It is so important that – while continuing to extend compassion and crisis support to people facing crisis in our communities – we also seek to challenge and change the drivers of poverty that are putting so many people in this position.
“This means tackling unjust systems that trap people in poverty and working to build a fairer society in which everyone can flourish.
“As Christians we need to be asking what it would take to bring about a future in which food banks are no longer needed and doing everything we can to help bring this into being.”
In the first six months of the pandemic, the need for food banks in the Trussell Trust network increased by 47%, with 2,600 emergency food parcels provided for children every day on average.
But the charity says it is vital that this does not become a time at which the provision of emergency food becomes part of the fabric of society, so it is inviting church leaders to a series of online events to find out more about how they can work together to achieve a hunger free future.
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “I am so grateful for the Christian community’s involvement in our work, which has been crucial in making it possible for food banks to continue to serve people at a time when it is so badly needed.
“But it isn’t right that so many people should be forced to turn to charities and churches for food and other basics. Rather, as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to find the courage and energy to build a different future – one in which food banks are no longer needed, because everyone can afford the essentials.
“Churches have a vital part to play in helping us to bring this future into being, and I am so looking forward to connecting with church leaders at these events. Together, I know we can continue to create real change.”
The Trussell Trust works with volunteers and supporters of all faiths and none. Many Catholic churches are actively involved with the charity’s Foodbank Network, providing volunteers and donations to support this work, and more than 20 Trussell Trust food bank centres are hosted by Catholic churches.
The charity will host an online event for church leaders on April 28. To find out more about these events, or how your church can support the Hunger Free Future campaign, visit trusselltrust.org/big-breakfast.