20 December 2017
The Housing Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke, has published a report looking at the usage of food banks in Jersey.
The report – based on data collected in the first quarter of 2017 by the Island’s three main providers of food assistance – follows a pilot study carried out in 2016. Using data provided by the Grace Trust, St Helier Methodist Centre and St Vincent de Paul, the study aims to build a picture of who is using the Island’s food banks and why.
Although the data supplied was not sufficient to create an evidenced profile of food bank users, or an accurate comparison between 2016 and 2017, it suggests that food bank usage was at similar levels during the first quarters of 2017 and 2016.
The data showed that food bank users were more likely to be female (60%) – compared to 2016, when users were more likely to be male – born in Jersey (65%), aged between 30 and 49, and single (78%), with no dependent children (71%).
Common reasons cited for seeking food assistance were: long-term health conditions; general low income and debt; unexpected problems incurring costs that could not be managed.
Deputy Pryke said “Since the first report in 2016, a lot of effort has been put into joint working between food banks and Government agencies to understand the scope and reasons for food bank usage in the Island. The data provided by this latest study is valuable in terms of our ongoing policy development.”
The report follows the release of the Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey Report 2017, which showed that almost a fifth of households (19%) reported finding it either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ difficult to cope financially in 2017.
Deputy Pryke added “The food bank usage report adds to a body of work aimed at better understanding the social issues affecting Jersey. The recent Opinions and Lifestyle Survey Report is particularly pertinent in this respect, and shows many Jersey households are facing difficulties coping financially. It is important that Government listens to this evidence, so that policy decisions can be made from an informed standpoint.”