MORE emergency food parcels were handed out across the Braintree district between April and September than in any summer since at least 2018.

The Trussell Trust, which helps run more than 1,500 food banks across the UK - including Braintree Area Food Bank - said the soaring need for essentials was "extremely alarming".

Figures from the charity show 5,336 emergency food parcels were handed out between April and September across seven food banks in Braintree.

That was a rise from 3,624 during the same period the year before – and the highest figure since figures were first made available in 2018.

Across the UK, a record of nearly 1.5 million parcels were distributed – 200,000 more than in the summer of 2022.

The figures cover parcels handed out by the charity itself, but do not include emergency food supplies provided by other organisations.

Trussell Trust chief exec Emma Revie said: "An increasing number of children are growing up in families facing hunger, forced to turn to food banks to survive.

"A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community. This is not right."

The trust's figures show 2,192 of this summer's food parcels in Braintree were for children.

Ms Revie said: "Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the nation’s health and hold back our economy.

"People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and forced to turn to a food bank to survive."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "There are 1.7 million fewer people in absolute poverty than in 2010, but we know some families are struggling, which is why we are providing a record support package worth £3,300 per household.

"This includes the latest cost of living payments paid directly to over eight million households this year, our decision to raise benefits by over 10 per cent earlier this year and our £2 billion Household Support Fund which is helping people to buy essentials."

They said the Government is aiming to get more people into work through investment and increasing the national living wage.