Almost half a million food parcels were given out by independent food banks in 18 months, nearly double the number previously thought, according to new figures.
Data available for the first time shows that 84 independent food banks in Scotland distributed 221,977 three-day emergency food packages between April 2017 and September 2018.
The data, collected by the Independent Food Aid Network and A Menu for Change, builds on existing figures published by the Trussell Trust, which showed their network of 118 food banks distributed 258,606 food parcels during the same time period.
The new combined statistics show that at least 480,583 food parcels were distributed by the Trussell Trust and independent food banks across Scotland between April 2017 and September 2018.
Campaigners from A Menu for Change are now calling on the Scottish Government to urgently use its new social security powers to help prevent people being pushed further into poverty.
Scottish Ministers have promised to bring in a new income supplement by 2022, but campaigners say people facing hardship can’t afford to wait three years for this extra support.
Dr Mary Anne MacLeod, research and policy officer at A Menu for Change, said: “These figures are truly shameful in rich Scotland and they should make for deeply uncomfortable reading for our political leaders: the problem of rising levels of hunger in Scotland is much worse than previously known.
“The Scottish Government should be commended.”