KING'S food bank in Kendal is providing 32% more meals than this time last year, and things show no sign of easing up with winter approaching.

Linda Sutherland, manager of the food bank, said: "It could be a busy time. Obviously people are going to need to heat their homes so the money might be directed to the metres or however they heat their homes.

"It might be a case of eat or heat your home so people have got a difficult decision to make there."

Rising demand appears to be a nationwide trend. In April, it was reported by the BBC that the Trussel Trust, the UK's largest food bank network, gave out record numbers of supplies last year.

Mrs Sutherland, who runs King's Food Bank with a team of around 30 volunteers, believed Universal Credit and other benefits-related issues bore a lot of the blame for the dramatic increase in demand in Kendal and neighbouring areas.

Universal Credit was announced in 2010, and was designed to simplify the benefits system by merging six benefits into one.

However, it has been dogged by controversy, not least because of the length of time a person must wait for their first payment after signing up - usually around five weeks.

According to Mrs Sutherland, it was this wait in particular that was causing people difficulty.

She said many people did not have the benefit of savings to fall back on, and added: "Even though they can apply for an interim loan, when they do receive their payments, that loan has to be repaid."

South Lakeland is a 'full service' Universal Credit area, meaning that new claimants go onto Universal Credit rather than the old benefits system.

In his speech at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, raised the case of a constituent, Violet, who was without a job when her husband walked out on her and their two children.

"Forced to take out loans, she cracked under the pressure," he said.

"I am angry at the thousands of Violets left destitute because of those five long weeks and the debt they leave behind."

King's Food Bank takes both food and monetary donations. Visit for more.