A total of more than 6,300 emergency food parcels were handed out by the area's foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network in the year to March, with more than 2,200 of these provided for children.

The figures are based on data from the charity's umbrella organisation East Renfrewshire Foodbank which has sites in Barrhead’s Lowndes Street and Thornliebank Resource Centre and, since November last year, in Busby Parish Church.

The total number of parcels distributed by ERF represents a 54% increase compared to the previous year and a 78% increase compared to the number given out between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.

The number of parcels given out to children alone has risen by 809 and 807 respectively when the same two periods are compared with the past year.

Barrhead News: The current most needed items, left, and, right, Ken at the foodbank at the end of last summer The current most needed items, left, and, right, Ken at the foodbank at the end of last summer (Image: East Renfrewshire Foodbank/Newsquest)

Just days before the figures were released, Ken Trench, who is part of foodbank’s management team told the Barrhead News that increasing demand over the past year or so is a direct effect of rising energy prices.

“It’s crazy the amount of stock we are shifting,” he explained. “Our biggest client is now a small family and families are obviously a lot more stock than single-person parcels.”

Over the last few weeks and months they have been serving in excess of 70 plus clients every week across their three branches in the local authority and stock is at an all time low, despite the continued generosity of donors.

"It’s the demand increasing, it's not that people have stopped giving," added Ken.

On a UK-wide scale, a record near-three million emergency food parcels have been handed out at food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in the year to March, with the number provided for children topping a million for the first time.

The figures from the charity represent a 37% increase compared to the previous year.

The number is more than double the amount distributed by food banks in the same period five years ago, the charity said.

Some 1,139,553 parcels were distributed for children, up from 835,879 the previous year and a rise from less than 500,000 in the 2017-2018 year.

In a sign of what the charity said is increasing need amid the cost-of-living crisis, more than 760,000 people – more than the population of Sheffield in the last census – used a food bank in the network for the first time.

This was a 38% rise on first-time users compared to the same period last year.

The charity said the level of need was greater than during the first year of the pandemic, and that there was a particularly high demand in December, with a parcel being distributed by staff and volunteers across the country every eight seconds.

The Trussell Trust said the problem is “not a regionalised issue”, with an increase of at least 28% in each area of the UK – with the highest being in the north east of England, with a 54% rise in the number of parcels being distributed compared to the previous year.

Of the four nations, Wales had the highest rise at 41%, followed by England at 37%, Scotland at 30% and Northern Ireland at 29%.

Emma Revie, the trust's chief executive, said the latest figures are "extremely concerning and show that an increasing number of people are being left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by and this is not right".

She added: "For too long people have been going without because social security payments do not reflect life's essential costs and people are being pushed deeper into hardship as a result.

"If we are to stop this continued growth and end the need for food banks then the UK Government must ensure that the standard allowance of Universal Credit is always enough to cover essential costs."