The Independent Food Aid Network and members across Scotland warned the lack of government support is leading to suffering across the country.
Scottish foodbanks are among more than 500 groups who have written to the UK Government warning those helping households on the breadline could soon be at breaking point.
A letter collated by the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saw members from across Scotland and beyond express concerns about the “scale of suffering” they were witnessing across the country.
The foodbanks involved say the demand for emergency food parcels has doubled at some providers since the end of last year, with others forced to reduce the size of food parcels to make supplies go further.
Signing the letter on behalf of members, Sabine Goodwin, IFAN coordinator, said: “It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that everybody in our society can afford food and other essentials. It is not for volunteers to plug the gaps left by a broken social security system and poorly paid jobs.
“An emergency supply of food cannot resolve someone’s financial crisis and will only act as a temporary sticking plaster.
“It is not for volunteers to plug the gaps left by a broken social security system and poorly paid jobs.”
Ministers have been told to raise benefits in line with inflation, as well as scrapping the five-week wait for a first universal credit payment, benefit sanctions and the no recourse to public funds condition on social security.
The letter added: “Food bank teams are often over-stretched and exhausted and could well be unable to continue to pick up the pieces. Volunteers cannot be expected to cope both physically and mentally with such relentless demand.
“What’s more, people who used to donate to food banks are now needing to access help themselves. Our members are struggling to find the resources to provide adequate food parcels as the scale of demand and food and energy price increases impact on the services they run.”
Despite the calls, Rishi Sunak has faced heavy criticism in recent weeks as social security payments will rise by just 3.1 per cent, based on economic data from September 2021.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has claimed it is the greatest real-terms cut in the value of basic unemployment benefits in 50 years.
“Charitable food aid has been an inadequate and unsustainable stop gap measure to growing poverty in the UK for 12 years.
“We urge you to immediately address the root causes of poverty driving the need for our services. Food banks are reaching breaking point.”
The calls were backed by the Trussell Trust’s head of Scotland, Polly Jones, who wrote on social media: “Powerful message from IFAN members across the UK: an emergency supply of food cannot resolve someone’s financial crisis and will only act as a temporary sticking plaster.
Rishi Sunak must do more to help.”
A UK Government spokesperson said in a statement: “We recognise the pressures people are facing with the cost of living, which is why we’re providing support worth £22 billion across the next financial year and, as was approved by parliament, benefits are being uprated by the usual measure, September’s inflation figure.
“Our package of support includes putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families via changes to universal credit, cutting fuel duty and helping households with their energy bills. We have also boosted the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and are raising National Insurance thresholds so people keep more of what they earn.”