In November 2014, the Emergency Use Only report broke new ground as the first systematic research into food bank use across the United Kingdom. It shed light on the factors driving food bank use, particularly the nature of the ‘acute income crises’ and longer term vulnerabilities which were leaving too many people with little option other than to access emergency food. Our driving concern was that, in the twenty-first century, with a social security system designed to prevent poverty, no one should be going hungry.
The Emergency Use Only research – hearing directly from people helped by food banks, supported by information from administrative data and learning from welfare rights caseloads – identified a number of specific problems that contribute to food bank use, along with some relatively simple changes which might dramatically reduce the number of people who are referred.
Over two years on, and based on research in late 2016, this report takes the recommendations from Emergency Use Only and, for each, assesses the progress made – in policy and practice – towards meeting the challenges they present.
Across the country, food banks and other community groups, local councils, charities, parliamentary inquiries and national governments have been taking action. This report showcases exciting examples of interventions that help tackle the problems that lead people to use food banks. In doing so, it demonstrates one of the key arguments of Emergency Use Only – that change is possible.