Food Bank Britain: A Third of Muslims Missed a Meal to Afford Bills Last Year

Written by Thamsia Salam
Published December 21, 2022

With a looming winter ahead and amongst a cost-of-living crisis, 19 per cent of all British Muslims have relied on food banks in the last 12 months.

More and more Muslims are increasingly being forced to use food banks as a result of financial strain and hardship amidst the cost-of-living crisis. 

In our most recent report, which explored the impact of the cost of living crisis on Muslim communities in the UK, we discovered that their financial situations were substantially impacted. According to our data, 19 per cent of British Muslims used food banks in the previous year. Perhaps most shocking, of those who have used a food bank, 65% did so in the in the last three months.

Widespread economic hardship has already seen the government introduce an unprecedented cost-of-living payment scheme to support households against the rising cost of living as part of a wider government package. 

Ehsan and Zahra Choudhary, father and daughter owners of the Open Kitchen, a food bank supported by Muslim Hands and offering hot meals every day, noticed a 30% increase in Muslims attending the food bank in the last 12 months. He added that there has been an identifiable increase in the number of young Muslims resorting to food bank use with even older users bringing young children and requesting fruits and juices for them. Such changes in the use of food banks has seen Ehsan and Zahra raise concerns about their budget going into the new year and the ability to continue supporting the community. 

One in five British Muslims have used food banks in the UK since August 2021. Even though this statistic has increased due to the cost-of-living crisis, in the last 8 to 9 months more people from Muslim communities have joined the Open Kitchen queues to receive food. Over the past five years, Ehsan and Zara have developed relationships with people of different faiths by distributing food to those in need.

Personal finances continue to worsen – there is still significant work needed to be done to help those most suffering – Ehsan

Imran Hameed, from Salma food bank, faces similar struggles. Salma food bank is an emergency organisation based in Smethwick, West Midlands, helping vulnerable individuals and families in crisis through food supplies. They operate on an open-door policy to whoever needs food, irrespective of religion. Imran explained how when he started out, they had people coming in once every week and now he has noted that there is an obvious increase. 

We’ve seen a 30% increase in the number of people using the food bank with the cost of living crisis almost certainly to blame – Imran

According to our data, young Muslims face a much higher risk of needing food banks, with 30% of those in this age group reporting use in the past year compared to 20% of Muslims over the age of 45. It is unsurprising then that 1 in 4 Muslims who are students or part-time workers, groups where there are significant numbers of young Muslims, used a food bank in the past year.

According to the responses to our survey, people are more worried about the coming months than they were about the previous twelve because of the rising cost of energy, which will unavoidably have an impact on other things like food prices.

Whilst bills continue to skyrocket, the economy suffering from inflation and the cost-of-living deepening, more and more food banks will undoubtedly be seeing an uptake of Muslims requiring access to their services. People like Ehsan, Zahra, and Imran have already seen an increase in numbers and are worried about what the new year will bring. 

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