RESEARCH at Bangor University has revealed a “huge surge” in foodbank use in Wales.

PhD student David Beck told the university’s Mapping Food Poverty conference on Monday there are now 157 foodbanks in the country, compared with 16 in 1998.

The Social Sciences researcher shared his findings at the one-day conference, where his work was described as “vital”.

Bangor Social Policy lecturer Dr Hefin Gwilym said: “The rise in foodbanks has been greatly hastened by welfare reform measures and austerity policies, particularly since the introduction of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

“Food banks are becoming institutionalised and an alternative to our familiar concept of the welfare state as more welfare provision is privatised or left to families and communities on a voluntary basis.

“The next step is to write a detailed report on addressing food poverty to be sent to the Welsh and UK Governments.”

Arfon MP Hywel Williams attended the event praised the Social Sciences team’s “revealing” research.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Williams said: “There has been a huge surge in the use of food banks in Wales, as the revealing research by Bangor University’s David Beck shows so clearly.

“It’s vital that we have food banks and I congratulate and praise those good people who work so hard to run them.

“But we also need to understand the reasons behind the growth.

“I applaud David Beck and Bangor University School of Social Sciences for their work.

“They have done a great service to the people of Wales in producing this vital research.”