The Trussell Trust has raised the alarm over referrals for families in jobs who are on low incomes.
Food banks in Scotland gave out enough emergency food this year to feed the entire population of Dundee for three days.
A report has shown that the use of Scots food banks has risen by nine per cent – an all time high.
The network of 52 food banks run by the Trussell Trust provided 145,865 emergency food packages to people in crisis – including 47,955 for children.
Low income has become the single biggest reason for a referral to a Scottish food bank and this includes the working poor.
The percentage of people referred due to low income increased, as a proportion of the overall figure, from 21 to 25 per cent in 2015-16.
Problems with benefit payments remain the biggest overall reason, accounting for 42 per cent of all referrals – 24 per cent for benefit delays and 18 per cent for benefit changes.
Food banks in areas where the full Universal Credit has been introduced for single people, couples and families have seen a 16.85 per cent increase in referrals for emergency food – more than double the national average of 6.64 per cent.
The effect of a waiting period of at least six weeks for the single monthly payment can be devastating and the Trussell Trust have recommended the delays be scrapped.
Ewan Gurr, Scotland network manager of the Trussell Trust, said the rollout of Universal Credit, inflation, poor wages and the increasing pressure on the pockets of low-income individuals and families is leading to dire outcomes.
He said: “The discovery that food banks in Scotland gave out enough emergency food to feed the population of Dundee for three days is deeply worrying and the reasons underpinning this are just as concerning.
“Men, women and children are sitting at the dinner table with no food in front of them.”
Vicki and Rodger’s story
When Vikki and Rodger Harper had lost so much weight that their clothes no longer fitted, a concerned housing officer asked to look in their kitchen cupboards.
Vikki said: “When I said no, she knew there was something wrong and she insisted. There was nothing in them.
“She was shocked that we had been left with no help and she told me about the food bank. It saved us.”
Vikki and Rodger, both 35, illustrate how precariously close to poverty many working people are.
The couple, from the Aberdeenshire village of Insch, and had a modest but comfortable life before they were hit by unemployment.
During the credit crunch of 2008, Roger lost his job in insurance.
They had four children to feed, Vikki’s family – Matthew, 14, Shannon, 13, and Amber nine, and Rodger’s son Reiss, 13. Rodger took a zero-hour contract as a slater with a building firm.
But within six months, the hours dwindled to nothing as the construction industry contracted.
Within weeks, they lost their rented house and were declared homeless – firstly being placed in a hostel and then emergency temporary accommodation.
Vikki said: “It was a very quick decline. We sold our car, furniture and I sold clothes and jewellery just to get food.”
They hadn’t claimed benefits before and as novices, they found the system almost impossible to navigate. It took nine weeks for administrative blunders to be resolved and they were left with no income – not even child benefit.