‘Staggering’ increase in local foodbank provision

woman at work in a Foodbank
Rebekah Gibson, manager of the Waterloo foodbank, at work in the Streatham Hill warehouse. Photo by Charlie Clift

The number of people supplied with emergency food by Lambeth foodbanks more than doubled in the past year.

The foodbanks today (22 April) revealed a “staggering” 127% increase in the number of people they have fed in the past 12 months.

Of the 39,425 emergency food parcels they provided in total, 15,020 went to children.

Between April 2020 and March this year, Lambeth foodbanks saw unprecedented numbers of people in need of support as the pandemic hit incomes and livelihoods.

They believe that official payments received by people affected by the virus do not cover the cost of essentials.

foodbank worker

Melissa, a Lambeth foodbank client, said: “I have found this lockdown period very, very distressing.

“I was working and paying all my bills on time, but since losing my job in lockdown I haven’t been able to pay any bills.

“Life for me basically has stopped. I am grateful for the support of Foodbank as I wouldn’t have been able to eat.”

Norwood and Brixton, Waterloo, Clapham Park, and Vauxhall Foodbanks have been working together since the first lockdown in April 2020, when it was necessary to switch to a delivery service.

All four foodbanks have temporarily relocated to a warehouse at St Margaret’s Church in Streatham Hill, from where food parcels are being delivered across Lambeth and beyond.

Packing boxes at foodbank

Waterloo Foodbank manager Rebekah Gibson said: “It simply isn’t right that more and more people in Lambeth are struggling to put food on the table and have been forced to our doors.

“The pandemic has impacted huge numbers of people and we know our figures are just the tip of the iceberg as new community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities have sprung up during the pandemic to support our community.

“We’re always blown away by the amount of support and generosity local people show in supporting our work. During this difficult year, our vital work has only been possible because of that incredible support.

“Thank you so much.

foodbank worker

“While our help continues to be needed, we’re dedicated to ensuring that people without enough money for food are able to access emergency support.

“But, ultimately, we don’t think it’s right that any of us are forced to turn to any charity for emergency food. 

“That’s why we’re calling on our candidates standing in local elections in May to commit to ending the need for our services in our community.

“Together we can build a Hunger Free Future.”

All four Lambeth foodbanks are part of the Trussell Trust’s network, which also reported record levels of need across the UK in the past year.

More than 2.5m emergency food parcels were given to people struggling to afford essentials between April 2020 and March 2021; more than 980,000 of these parcels went to children.

Women wearing mask packing foodbank parcels

Lambeth foodbanks back the Trussell Trust call for people to join the campaign for a Hunger Free Future

Emma Revie, chief executive of the trust, said: “No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food.

“Yet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials.

“This is not right, but we know we can build a better future.

foodbank worker

“This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.

“We are asking you, the public, to write to your local election candidates for a commitment to working to end the need for food banks.

“Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future.”


Number of emergency food parcels distributed by Lambeth Foodbanks and by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK wide network in 2020/21

1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021
To adultsTo childrenTotal

Local foodbank websites

UK-wide Trussell Trust food bank statistics