"If a limited number of people are having recourse to food banks multiple times that needs a different approach to the one that will be most helpful if more people are using a food bank just once."
The Trussell Trust (The UK's biggest foodbank operator) says that 913,138 adults and children were provided with three days emergency food supplies from its food centres in the year 2013/2014, compared to 346,992 for the previous 12 month period. It says the primary reason given by people needing food was that they were waiting for delayed benefit payments, the second biggest reason was low income, followed by changes in benefit payments.
The trust says it cannot record the number of 'unique' visitors, but it knows that recent evidence collected from a sample of foodbanks indicates that over 65 percent of foodbank users were only helped once over a six month period, and that only 7.4% of people needed four or more vouchers.
The point I made in my original post was that there has been a massive increase in the number of food parcels handed out, which is why I made my 'it isn't really the point' remark. It's obvious that the amount of food distributed has increased dramatically, and if 65% of people needing food only once is true of the country as a whole then there has indeed been a big increase in the number of people involved.