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Key facts about food bank use

The use of emergency food aid in the UK has dramatically increased over the last decade.

Here is a fact file about the use of food banks:

:: More than 400 food banks are now in operation with around two opening every week.

:: 913,138 people, a third of them children, were given three days of emergency food between 2013-2014, according to the Trussell Trust which supports food banks in the UK.

:: It compared to 346,992 people in 2012-2013.

:: In 2011-2012, 128,697 people used food banks - the same number as the previous three years put together.

:: In 2013-2014, 30% of visitors - the highest proportion - said they visited a food bank because of delays in receiving their benefits.

:: The second most common reason was because of low income followed by benefit changes. Homelessness, debt and domestic violence were among the other reasons that people visited.

The Trussell Trust blames the rising cost of living, static incomes and changes to benefits for the dramatic rise in the number of people in need of emergency food.

The Department for Work and Pensions has previously argued that there is "no robust evidence" to suggest that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks.

Those opening up new food banks say they are responding to a need that has always existed but that welfare reform has exacerbated.

But critics say food banks opening up and offering free food only creates more demand.

Earlier this year Lord Tebbit said "there is always a near-infinite demand for valuable goods that are given away free".

He also implied that those relying for their basic foods on food banks were spending their money on junk food.

A typical food box contains a minimum of three days' nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food such UHT milk, pasta and rice and tins of sauces, vegetables and meat.

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