Hard-up families could be forced to turn to the British Red Cross for help this winter for the first time in nearly 70 years, as thousands face crippling cuts to their household budgets.

The Red Cross said it was about to launch a campaign in supermarket foyers asking shoppers to donate food to be distributed to the most needy through the charity FareShare.

Rises in basic food prices and soaring utility bills have helped push more than 5m people in the UK into deep poverty.

Nearly 500,000 people needed support from food banks last year, according to figures from the Trussel Trust.

Juliet Mountford, head of UK service development, said the RedCross agreed to assist FareShare on the basis of “strong evidence of an increased need for support on food poverty issues”.

“For British Red Cross it’s a toe in the water. It’s the first step in considering whether we ought to be doing more on today’s food poverty challenge.”

Last month a report shed light on the chronic throwaway culture affecting the food industry, in which up to two-fifths of a crop of fruit or vegetables can be wasted because it is “ugly”.

Produce grown in the UK that does not meet retailer standards on size or shape or is blemished is often used for animal feed or simply ploughed back into the ground even though it is edible, with as much as 40% of a crop rejected.

The report, commissioned by the UK’s global food security programme, also showed that the average household threw away more than 5kg (11lb) of food a week.

source: Guardian UK