THE scale of food poverty in Renfrewshire has been branded “appalling,” with thousands of people having to rely on free meals.

Figures released by The Trussell Trust, which operates a network of foodbanks, show it distributed a total of 3,375 food parcels to people in Renfrewshire during the six months from April to September last year.

Of that total, almost 1,000 were handed to children.

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby said food poverty in the local area is at “unacceptable” levels and has described the number of children affected as “shameful.”

The Labour man has also warned that cuts to Universal Credit imposed by the UK Government will push families further into poverty.

He is calling on fellow MSPs to support the ‘Right to Food’ Bill proposed by his Labour colleague Rhoda Grant, which would enshrine the right to food in Scots Law.

Mr Bibby, who is based in Paisley, told The Gazette: “The evidence is clear – thousands of people are in food poverty and many more are being put at risk due to Tory cuts.

“These appalling figures show how many families in Renfrewshire are relying on foodbanks to get by. We simply cannot allow this situation to continue.

“If we have the political will, we can end food poverty by enshrining it as a human right in Scots Law. This will send a powerful message that we are serious about tackling the scourge of food poverty and force us into action.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We prioritise action to prevent poverty and promote cash-first responses to hardship so that people have sufficient income to access food that meets their needs and preferences.

“In October, we announced a £41million Winter Support Fund for low-income households to help people struggling financially this winter. This includes £25million to local authorities which they can use flexibly to respond to emerging local need.”