More than 1,000 emergency food parcels are being handed out each day in Scotland, shocking new figures have shown.
But national organisations are warning the figures are still just the tip of the iceberg, as others in need skip meals rather than seek help.
Data released by A Menu for Change and the Independent Food Aid Network has shown a 22% rise in the number of food parcel distributions across the country.
At least 596,472 food parcels were given out in the last 18 months, compared to 480,583 during the previous 18 months.
In that same period, services in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire handed out 30,448 three-day emergency food parcels.
The most recent figures for the Highland Foodbank in Inverness reveal 2018 was its busiest year since opening in 2005.
It is estimated that more than 7,000 people were fed across the year, with 50 tonnes of food distributed.
Evan Adamson, food bank manager at Instant Neighbour in Aberdeen said: “More and more people across the city and shire are unable to make ends meet because of inadequate and insecure incomes.
“This new data shows how much independent food banks are relied on to support people in need in Scotland.
“It’s not right that anyone in Scotland should be forced to turn to a food bank to put a meal on the table.
“We need the Scottish and UK governments to make sure everyone has enough income to cover the basic cost of living, which means decent wages and adequate benefits.”
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for action, saying: “The UK government needs to wake up to the cost of this crisis and stop shunning responsibility before more families and children are pushed into the poverty.”
The figures were collected from independent food banks and combined with Trussell Trust statistics to show the full scale of emergency food bank use in Scotland.
Now, A Menu for Change and the Independent Food Aid Network are calling for the UK government to increase the national living wage to the real living wage.
Margaret MacLachlan, project manager at A Menu for Change said: “Today’s statistics are shocking, but experts also warn that data on food parcel distribution only provides a partial picture of the number of Scots struggling to put food on the table.
“Many are choosing to skip meals rather than use a food bank.”