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27 June 2019, 07:01
Emergency food parcels handed out to children in Scotland rose by more than a fifth last summer, new figures indicate.
The Trussell Trust, which operates 135 food banks across Scotland, said 6,551 parcels with enough food for three days were given to children in Scotland during last year's summer holidays.
It is a 21% increase on the 5,412 distributed in the school holidays the previous summer.
The trust said overall food bank use in Scotland rose by 23% in 2018-19 and predicts this trend will continue, prompting fears this summer will be its busiest to date as families who qualify for free school meals struggle to feed their children over the holidays.
Ahead of the summer break starting, the trust wants people to check what items their local food bank requires and consider donating.
It has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution for people struggling to afford food and called for benefit reform.
Laura Ferguson, operations manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: "No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics but more and more families across Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn't right.
"Food banks do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won't stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare during the holidays.
"But ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank's help, no matter the time of the year."
She added: "If we are to end hunger in Scotland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty.
"The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.
"While it's great to see the Scottish Government pledging to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to poverty."