More food parcels handed out in Lisburn and Castlereagh this summer
More food parcels were handed out in Lisburn and Castlereagh between April and September than in the same period the year before, new figures show.
The Trussell Trust, which helps run more than 1,500 food banks across the UK, has described the record-breaking demand for essentials across the country as "extremely alarming".
Figures from the charity show 2,434 emergency food parcels were handed out between April and September across two food banks in Lisburn and Castlereagh.
This is a rise from 2,152 during the same period a year before.
Across the UK, a record of nearly 1.5 million parcels were distributed – 200,000 more than in the summer of 2022.
These figures cover parcels handed out by the charity itself, but do not include emergency food supplies provided by other organisations.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "An increasing number of children are growing up in families facing hunger, forced to turn to food banks to survive."
"A generation is growing up believing that it’s normal to see a food bank in every community. This is not right," she added.
The trust's figures show 1,022 of this summer's food parcels in Lisburn and Castlereagh were for children.
Ms Revie continued: "Rising hunger and hardship have devastating consequences for individuals and our communities, damage the nation’s health and hold back our economy.
"People in work, as well as people who cannot work, are increasingly being pushed into debt and forced to turn to a food bank to survive."
Across the UK, the North East of England and Wales had the highest levels of food bank usage, with one parcel handed out for every 35 residents in both areas.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, had a parcel given out for every 49 people in the nation.
In response, the organisation has called for an "essentials guarantee" – meaning Universal Credit should protect people from going without the basics – and for benefits to rise in line with inflation in this year's Autumn Statement.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "There are 1.7 million fewer people in absolute poverty than in 2010, but we know some families are struggling, which is why we are providing a record support package worth £3,300 per household.
"This includes the latest cost of living payments paid directly to over eight million households this year, our decision to raise benefits by over 10% earlier this year and our £2 billion Household Support Fund which is helping people to buy essentials."
They added the Government is aiming to get more people into work through investment and increasing the national living wage.