Cambridge City Foodbank has revealed a significant long-term increase in the number of people accessing its foodbanks. While the population of Cambridge and its surrounding area has grown by approximately 10% since 2015, there has been a 127% increase in foodbank users during this time.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, 10% more people accessed Cambridge City Foodbank’s emergency support services compared to the same period the previous year. However, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty in Cambridge, 2020/21 has not been the Foodbank’s biggest growth period. In 2017/18, 28.1% more people accessed a foodbank compared with the previous year, and this number grew again in the 2018/19 period by a significant 35.5%. In 2020/21, Cambridge City Foodbank supported more than 10,000 people in a single year for the first time.
Margaret Saner, CEO, Cambridge City Foodbank comments: “During the early stages of the pandemic, we saw an unprecedented spike in people needing our support – in April 2020, we saw an 80% increase in people using the foodbank compared to the same month in 2019. It was absolutely heart breaking to see so many people who had lost their jobs, were ill and couldn’t work, or were on reduced incomes. It really was a challenging time for many individuals and families in our local community and, while the numbers of people accessing the foodbank steadied as the year went on, this is still the busiest we have ever been.
“Although the pandemic has accelerated hardship, and will likely continue to disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods for some time, it is important to recognise that food poverty has existed in Cambridge for a long time now and it will continue to grow even when this dreadful pandemic is finally over. Food poverty in Cambridge and across the UK is a deep-rooted systemic issue which requires collaborative action and long-term solutions. Our vision is to eradicate the need for foodbanks altogether, but much work is needed on a national, governmental level to make this a reality.”
Cambridge City Foodbank runs a number of centres in Cambridge city and the surrounding villages, as well as a Fairbite shop in North Cambridge, where people pay a small membership fee to access a wide range of foods.
Cambridge City Foodbank is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by the Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust recently announced the national data on foodbank use during the pandemic, revealing that, between April 2020 and March 2021, a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels were distributed to people in crisis by Trussell Trust foodbanks. This equates to a 33% increase on the previous year and a 128% increase on the same period five years ago (2015/16).