Food banks in Scotland say they have recorded the largest ever increase in emergency food parcels going to children during the pandemic.
The Trussell Trust – which runs 83% of the country’s network – reported total deliveries were up 47% in April compared to the same period in 2019.
This included a 62% increase in parcels going to children.
The trust is now calling for the government to give help to low-income families, including a £250 lump sum.
It also wants an extension of cash payments for children eligible for free school meals until schools reopen in August.
The Scottish government said it had committed £350m of additional funding “to support those most at risk”.
A spokesman said it was also supporting over 175,000 children with access to free school meals.
More than 100 organisations have signed up to a coalition urging the Scottish and UK governments to help “as widespread concern mounts for children’s wellbeing”.
They want the UK government to introduce a temporary Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme.
The charities say this would “ensure everyone has enough money in their pocket for essentials during this crisis”.
The package would mean:
- Increasing benefits for families to help with the costs of raising children
- Advance payments to cover the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment
- Lifting the benefit cap to ensure this support scheme benefits everyone.
The Trussell Trust’s head in Scotland, Polly Jones, said it was “vital to ensure funding is available to stop children from falling into poverty”.
She added: “Cash grants are the quickest way to distribute money in an emergency and could be the difference between someone being able to afford to put food on the family table or not.
“This would be part of an emergency scheme to ensure people already struggling to keep their heads above water can stay afloat.
“We have the power to make sure support is there to stop any of us being swept into poverty during this emergency.”
The Scottish government said it was working on introducing a new Scottish Child Payment and would be paying people who receive Carers Allowance an additional supplement this year.
It has called on its UK counterparts to “match our efforts given that income replacement benefits are still reserved to Westminster”.
“They need to reverse their welfare cuts which are now hitting harder than ever,” a spokesman said.
“This includes the benefit cap, bedroom tax, and two child limit, for which we have continually called for change, as well as make fundamental alterations to Universal Credit to ensure it works for people.”