I can remember a few years ago when I read the first appeal from the Mid Cheshire Foodbank asking people for donations.

I was shocked. How, I wondered, could a major First World county such as ours have reached such a state that we were having to give food handouts.

What had gone wrong? Was it the system or was it feckless individuals who couldn’t manage their budget?

The answer came back loud and clear...it was the system and it just wasn’t working.

I would have hoped that in a caring and compassionate county, once it became obvious that food poverty was a problem, the government would have stepped in and done something about it.

But no, it didn’t and still hasn’t.

Instead, foodbanks have become normalised, we just accept them as a fact of life.

This is a plea appearing in the Northwich Guardian: The Mid Cheshire Foodbank has outlined its priority items for this week.

The foodbank would welcome donations of rice pudding and cereal, as well as tinned fish of which it has zero stock. All donations are gratefully received.

Donations can be dropped off at F Hayes Funeralcare in Barnton, Sainsbury’s Hartford, Abbeycroft Vets, Tesco, and St Helen Witton Church from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.

Just take a moment to read and digest that. The foodbank has ‘priorities for the week’. That’s this week. It had priorities last week and the week before and the week before that.

And presumably, it will have priorities next week and the week after that and the week after that.

And things are getting worse.

Data released by the charity the Trussell Trust recently shows April 2018 to March 2019 to be the busiest year for foodbanks in the charity’s network since it opened.

During the past year, 1,583,668 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis in the UK. More than half a million of these (577,618) went to children. This is an 18.8 per cent increase on the previous year.

The main reasons for people needing emergency food, according to the data are benefits consistently not covering the cost of living (33 per cent), and delays or changes to benefits being paid.

Universal Credit is not the only benefit payment people referred to foodbanks have experienced problems with, but issues with moving onto the new system are a key driver of increasing need.

Almost half (49 per cent) of foodbank referrals made due to a delay in benefits being paid in UK were linked to Universal Credit.

 From this data, and other insights from food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network, the charity believes ending the five week for a first Universal Credit payment should be the Government’s first priority to help create a future without foodbanks.

The trust has listed the three main reasons that drive people into using foodbanks: Income not covering the cost of essentials (33.11 per cent); Benefit delays (20.34 per cent); Benefit changes (17.36 per cent).

If the picture is grim nationally, locally it’s even worse.

As Guardian chief reporter Josh Pennington wrote recently: The number of people in Northwich and Winsford relying on the foodbank to feed their families is soaring at a colossal rate.

The Mid Cheshire Foodbank, which provides food parcels to people in crisis across the area, has released its annual statistics, showing again that the amount of people turning to the foodbank is increasing year on year.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, 6,569 three-day emergency food parcels to Northwich and Winsford residents, of which 2,365 of the emergency parcels went to children.

This year’s figure shows a 19.2 per cent increase on last year, which is in line with the national rise across all foodbanks operated by the Trussell Trust.

However, a three-year increase at Mid Cheshire Foodbank of 113 per cent is much greater than the national three-year climb.

But in many ways, what else should we expect? Years and years of ideological austerity, the disgrace of Universal Credit, zero hours contracts and a government paralysed by the shambles that is Brexit has brought us to this point and frankly it is a disgrace. As a nation we should be hanging our heads in shame.

We all owe a debt of thanks to the Trussell Trust, but the sooner we have no need of its charity, the better.

By Guardian columnist The Fly in the Ointment