Food Distribution

Trussell Trust Food Banks : Keeping the confusion despite clarity.


In Trussell Trust’s 2015 report they have seen fit to clarify their statement regarding their published statistics following my question to them, directly, last year.

On June 18 2014, I posted an article following my query with the Trussell Trust as to whether their statistics recorded people, or visits. They confirmed that their statistics were based on sampling and were visits and not unique people.

This year they have tried to clarify the position:


Feedback from some journalists, and some of todays’ coverage of latest
Trussell Trust foodbank figures, shows that there is some confusion over
what Trussell Trust figures can and cannot show. We would like to make this
absolutely clear:

Trussell Trust figures show that Trussell Trust foodbank use has hit one
million for the first time, but we have not claimed that the numbers relate
to unique individuals.

The Trussell Trust is measuring volume – the number of people to whom it
has given three days’ food. The Trussell Trust has consistently measured
figures in this way and reports them at the middle and end of each financial
year. Trussell Trust figures clearly state that we are counting the number of
people to whom we have given three days’ food – these are not necessarily
unique people. Year-on-year, the figures are showing an increase in
numbers given three days’ food by Trussell Trust foodbanks.

As our press release says, 49 percent of people coming to Trussell Trust
foodbanks in a year needed help once. On average people needed two
foodbank vouchers in a year. Each foodbank voucher entitles people to
three days’ food and support.

Despite this clarification on a separate press release, to the main document they continue to propagate the ambiguity by stating:

The latest figures published by the Trussell Trust show that over 1,000,000 people have received at least three days’ emergency food from the charity’s foodbanks in the last twelve months, more than in any previous year. The data indicates that despite signs of economic recovery, the numbers of people turning to foodbanks continues to grow.

By their own admission they do not record unique visitors, and only sample check the numbers of people visiting more than once, which results in a rough average. In view of this they cannot confidently say that a 19% increase in visits results in a similar increase in the number of people relying on foodbanks. It could be a 19% rise in the number of visits/person from 1.7 visits per person per year, to 2? Can their averaging / sampling methodology measure to that level of accuracy?

Perhaps they should fully commit to clarity by stating that there were 1,084,604 Visits, or approximately 500,000 people ( based on an average of 2 visits per year, totalling 6 days of food). I suspect that too much clarity would result in embarrassment for the Trussell Trust as their headline number of people would halve in size.


None of Derby’s food banks are run by Trussell Trust, and no city wide statistics exist to indicate the actual trend in food or hot meal provision from local charities to those in need.



Categories: Food Distribution

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1 reply »

  1. Quite small samples give a reasonable level of accuracy so long as it’s a representative sample. So it seems clear that they have helped 500 000 people as near as makes no odds. Should they put more resources into accounting or helping?

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