It is a disturbing fact of life in the 21st century that increasing numbers of families are becoming dependent on food handouts.

The Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank is distributing seven times more food parcels a month than it was two years ago – and organisers predict the situation will get worse.

Monthly food parcel distribution recently rose to 722 – compared with 109 in July, 2011 – and volunteers are spending more than £1,000 a month on food staples, following a drop in donations.

Stark figured produced by the charity shows that last year monthly food parcels rose from 141 in January to 457 in December, and this year the numbers rose sharply from 462, at the start of 2013, to a record 725 in May.

Founder Lashman Singh says benefit changes and redundancy have been significant factors in the rise in families relying on food parcels.

“We have only two months worth of food in stock. What we have is mostly tinned items – beans, soup and meat – but we’re spending more than £1,000 a month on soft drinks, longlife milk, sugar, tea, coffee, pasta, pasta sauce and cereal, which are the starter in all food parcels,” he says.

“We have about £13,000 in funds, but at this rate, that is going to run out fast. We’re reaching crisis point and simply won’t be able to meet demand. It’s going to get to the stage when we can’t cater for all the people we’re catering for now.”

He adds: “If you look at figures for June over the past two years, you’ll see a drastic increase. In June 2011, we gave out 121 food parcels, in 2012 it was 288, and in June this year, that rose to 659. The benefit changes have had the biggest impact. People are having to wait while their benefits are sorted out, and are struggling to get by in the meantime.

“We’ve also had an influx of Eastern European migrants, who are making up large numbers at Bradford Day Shelter and the Curry Project. Many come here under false pretenses, with offers of work that don’t materialise, and end up destitute.”

Lashman, who founded the food bank nine years ago, appealed to businesses, schools and religious organisations to set up collection points for non-perishable food.

“We can collect donations from them,” he says. “I know money is tight, but food poverty is a big problem in Bradford and we need as many donations as we can get.

“Next year, we’ll have been going ten years. The figures will only get worse.”

Earlier this year, the Government commissioned research to examine the extent of emergency food aid, amid concerns that growing numbers of low-paid and benefit-dependent households were using charity food handouts.

Food bank volunteer Keith Thomson says most people helped by the charity have short-term needs, and many are dependent on benefits.

“There has been a steady increase in food parcels going out over the last couple of years and it has become more pronounced since Christmas,” he says.

“In 2010, we were averaging 250 bags a month, up to 300-plus in 2011 and 350 in 2012. Since then, we topped 400, then 500 and in April it was 600-plus with 722 in May. There is little sign of the rate abating.”

In April, the Telegraph & Argus reported that Trussell Trust food handouts had more than doubled in 12 months. Up to half of those fed were children and a fifth were single parents.

The Trust reported a rise of 170 per cent in the number of people using food banks nationally, with the charity setting up three every week.

Organisers said that while some of those receiving handouts were homeless or victims of abuse, many found themselves in “unexpected circumstances”, due to factors like redundancy or debt.

Skipton Food Bank, set up in 2010 to give out Christmas hampers to those need, had seen demand rise from one or two to eight eight hampers a week.

To enquire about making donations to Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank, visit