ALARMING figures released today reveal that 2,711 people received three days' emergency food from Widnes Foodbank in the past year.

Of those who were given rations, 1,138 were children.

A staggering 20 tonnes of food were donated by residents, schools, businesses and churches.

Nationally, more than 900,000 people received food from Trussell Trust Foodbanks in 2013-14, a rise of 163 per cent.

Of the foodbanks surveyed, 83 per cent reported that benefit sanctions caused people to seek emergency aid. More than 50 per cent of referrals were as a result of benefit delays or changes.

Trussell Trust chairman, Chris Mould, said: "It is shocking that we’re seeing rising numbers of people need to turn to foodbanks in 21st century Britain.

"But perhaps most worrying of all is that Trussell Trust Foodbank figures are just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty. They don't include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no foodbank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

"That’s why urgent action needs to be taken to stop UK hunger."

As well as providing emergency food, Widnes Foodbank provides signposting to many families who are at breaking point, enabling them to seek additional support from local services.

Today, a letter co-signed by 36 Anglican Bishops and over 600 church leaders from all major denominations will call for urgent Government action to be taken on UK food poverty.

The letter, initiated by End Hunger Fast, will be delivered to the constituency offices of each of the three main party leaders by three church leaders who have been fasting for 40 days in solidarity with people facing hunger in the UK.

This will mark the biggest ever faith leader intervention on UK food poverty in modern times.