I am not a number…

By Louisa Hobbs, Operations Manager at MK Food Bank

Numbers, statistics, data. I’m literally surrounded by them..

We’re experiencing a cost-of-living crisis that’s getting worse every day and I’m trying to find a way to tell you about it. My desk is littered with scraps of scribbled calculations, I’ve three spreadsheets open and I’m having to google once again how you work out a percentage increase…

I could tell you that we have given out 19.8% more parcels this year than in the same period in 2021. Or that this is an extra 1,113 individual parcels, or that we needed 22,260 more items of food this year – on top of the 106,460 items we had to find anyway.

Recent donation

I could tell you about the 34.8% rise in adult parcels, or the 16% increase in new users-an average of 35 new households every week. I could show you graphs galore breaking down reasons for need, and the (scarily small) number of tins in our warehouse.

But would any of this really tell you anything? Yes, the numbers are big – and getting bigger – but they only tell half the story and are pretty meaningless out of context.

So instead, I thought I’d tell you about Jeff who we met in February. In his 50s and single, he has always managed. Until recently he was a self-employed handyman and although he’s never had much, he’s always managed to earn enough to get by. Until he got sick last year with an undiagnosed condition that leaves him unable to work a lot of the time. He’s now receiving Universal Credit and trying to live on £300 a month. He hates taking benefits so when he did feel well enough, he worked for a few days – and some of his payments were stopped. This is when he finally rang us. He was deeply ashamed but agreed to come to a top-up shop where he could fill his basket with staple food. We put him in touch with Citizens Advice to get support with his benefits and he’s now starting to look to the future.

Jeff’s quote: ‘Dealing with the Universal Credit system at my age has felt traumatic and shameful. I really didn’t want to come to the Food Bank but it’s taken one worry off my mind.’


Jeff (not his real name of course) as well as many others tell their stories to us daily. Almost all of us know someone just like him – they live on our streets, work in our neighbourhoods and their children go to the same schools as ours. And we are here for anyone who finds themselves struggling with an emergency or crisis. To take just one of the stresses away.

Cost-of-living crisis

If I can just talk numbers once more though before I finish. Right now the numbers are not adding up. The food coming in via donations is not enough to match the amount of food going out in parcels and we are in very real danger of running out.
Please click below to find out how you can help with food, or money, so that we never have to turn anyone away.