NEARLY 6,000 people in York and North Yorkshire have needed help from food banks in the past year, a new report reveals today.

Figures released by the Trussell Trust today show 5,874 people in the region, including 1,937 children, were given three days' emergency food over the last year.

In Yorkshire and Humberside there was a rise in food poverty during the year up to March, with a 260.34 per cent increase in meals being given out.

Laura Hagues, project manager of the Trussell Trust coordinated food banks in Acomb, Tang Hall, Clifton and Huntington Road in York, said: "The figures surprise me from a moral point of view - the need for a food bank is surprising in this country. In terms of the welfare reforms we have seen in the last year, that does not surprise me and I imagine it will carry on that way for the foreseeable future."

Around 130 to 150 people a month use the foodbank in York, with numbers peaking last summer during the school holidays.

More than 50 per cent of people using the food banks in York have benefit-related issues including delays and complications.

Others are people on low incomes and zero hour contract, Ms Hagues said, adding "It's not through lack of wanting to partake in society - people are but it's not paying the money they need."

In North Yorkshire there are also Trussell Trust run food banks in Portholme Church in Selby, Mowbray Community Church in Scarborough and the Ryedale Food Bank Hope Central in Malton.

People have to have been referred by other agencies to receive food.

Lesley Hurley, the project manager of the Ryedale Food Bank, said it has given packages to 700 people since opening 11 months ago. She said many people were forced to prioritise pay rent, energy bills and the transport costs of living in a rural area on low salaries, before paying for food.

She said: "Under what looks like affluent Ryedale there's an under lying amount of people going without."

Nationally, 20 million meals were given out via the food banks last year.

The report released today by report published today by Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and The Trussell Trust, notes that food prices have increased by 43.5 per cent in the past eight years. During the same time the poorest 20 per cent have seen their disposable income fall by £936 a year.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam chief executive, said: “Food banks provide invaluable support for families on the breadline but the fact they are needed in 21st Century Britain is a stain on our national conscience. Why is the Government not looking into this?

“We truly are living through a tale of two Britains; while those at the top of the tree may be benefiting from the green shoots of economic recovery, life on the ground for the poorest is getting tougher."

Chris Mould, chairman of The Trussell Trust said: “Trussell Trust food banks alone gave three days’ food to over 300,000 children last year.

"Unless there is determined policy action to ensure that the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low-incomes we won’t see life get better for the poorest anytime soon.”

The report will feature on tonight’s Dispatches, to be broadcast at 7.30pm on Channel 4.