It's an embarrassing fact for the coalition government, that soaring numbers of people turning to emergency food banks.
More than 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year.
But can the figures be explained away, more awareness, more foodbanks opening, and people just after a free lunch...?
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HuffPost UK asked the Trussell Trust, the UK's largest network of foodbanks, to rebutt the common attacks against food banks.
Not true, say The Trussell Trust. They work with dieticians to design a nutritionally balanced food parcel, but crucially using non-perishable items that can last, unlike American food banks that giver users any old near-dated surplus food.
This was the argument used by millionaire Lord Freud
in the House of Lords. But "people can’t just turn up asking for free food, they are referred by professionals"" says Chris Mould, executive chair of the Trust.
If someone turns up without a voucher, food bank staff put them in touch with relevant local agencies who can assess whether they need a voucher and signpost them to the right services.
Again, this is a common Tory refrain, and one recently examined in the Spectator.
Foodbanks obviously don't dispute the first part but they are ‘deeply concerned’ by the growing numbers who are needing them. And many politicians are horrified.
"If you had told be at the beginning of my political career that I'd be addressing this kind of problem when I was coming to the end of my career, I'd have been gobsmacked," government poverty tsar Frank Field MP has said.
Over 50% of children living in poverty in the UK are from working households and many of the people helped by foodbanks are in work, with the rising cost of living combined with no rise in wages causing many to hit a crisis where they can’t afford to eat.
This was a refrain heard regularly last week as it emerged Tesco throws away two-thirds of its bagged salad
Firstly, small local food banks often cannot cope with storing perishables.
And the Trussell Trust doesn't believe in giving people sub-standard, out-of-date food "simply because they are poor," Mould says. Charity FareShare does work to redistribute surplus food from supermarkets and manufacturers to local charities.
The Trussell Trust receives no government funding and foodbanks are not part of the welfare state.
In fact, their foodbanks are advised by head office against entering into contractual agreements with local authorities.
This is the Department of Work and Pensions line.
But this has been possible since 2011, so would not explain the latest drastic rise of foodbank use increasing by a third.
And the Trussell Trust believes less than 3% of people visiting food banks are referred by Jobcentres.
"If people come to a foodbank more than three times in six months our system automatically flags this so that the foodbank manager can contact their social worker or the service that referred them to make sure that there is a plan in place to help their client break out of poverty," Mould says,
The Trust insists that the reality is that without foodbanks people go hungry, and they prevent people from turning to extreme measures such as shoplifting or rummaging through bins in order to eat.
The Trussell Trust is adamant that media coverage does not generate the need. Independent research shows that 1 in 5 mums regularly skip meals to feed their children in the UK today. Widespread evidence from a range of care professionals states that short term hunger is a deep and real problem in the UK. More foodbanks are opening because people are going hungry.