An extra £1.6 million in funding for groups helping Scots struggling to buy food due to the coronavirus crisis has been announced.
FareShare, a network of charity food distributors, has handed out the equivalent of 3.5 million meals since March 23 – roughly 1,440 tonnes of food.
The money comes from the Scottish Government’s food fund and will go towards community organisations.
It comes as Scottish food banks report an increase in need and some vulnerable customers saying they are struggling to buy supplies.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “At this difficult time, it is more important than ever that we tackle food insecurity by supporting the work of community food distribution groups across the country who are best placed to ensure vital supplies reach those who need it most.
“By working in partnership with FareShare and their partners in communities across Scotland, this extra funding will help frontline charities and community food groups provide support to even more people in need.
“I would encourage anyone who is struggling to afford or access food during these challenging times to contact our national helpline on 0800 111 4000.”
Several charities have also written to the Scottish Government and major supermarkets to make sure vulnerable customers can purchase the supplies they need.
A recent Age Scotland survey of older people found 32% of respondents struggled to get food from a supermarket and 39% faced difficulties getting an online delivery.
Some blind Scots were also finding it difficult to shop while keeping to the new social distancing rules.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “It is extremely concerning that two-and-a-half months since the start of the Covid pandemic there are still tens of thousands of older and vulnerable people who are surviving on food parcels.”
He added: “While we recognise the work done by the supermarkets at the start of this crisis to help customers, the system is still far from perfect.
“It is vital that improvements are made. Too many older people are still struggling but we have faith that the Scottish Government and the retailers can fix this.”
The Trussell Trust has reported a substantial rise in the number of people using its food banks since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with numbers in April up 47% from the previous year.