The number of Scots using foodbanks has risen to a record high, new figures have revealed.
More than 210,000 three-day emergency packages were handed out by the Trussell Trust, the major foodbank provider in the UK, up nearly a quarter on 2017.
In Aberdeen, 3,819 emergency food supplies packages were provided by city food banks during 2018.
The Trust said issues with the flagship Government welfare reform, Universal Credit, were a “key driver” of increasing food poverty.
It believes delays in payment account for around 17% of cases across the UK and around 42% of all food bank referrals in Scotland – though those claims are disputed by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Trussell Trust Scotland operations manager Laura Ferguson said: “What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food.
“A 200% increase in just five years is not right.
“Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money to buy food.
“Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty.
“Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.
“As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.”
Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: “In a country as wealthy as ours it’s unacceptable that emergency parcels and food banks have become so commonplace.
“The disastrous Tory record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “It cannot be claimed that Universal Credit is driving the overall use of food banks or that benefit changes and delays are driving growth.
“The Trust’s own analysis shows a substantial fall in the share of parcels being issued due to benefit payment delays.
“The best route out of poverty is to help people into sustainable employment which, with record employment, we are doing.”