Worcester's parliamentary candidates have been challenged by a foodbank to spearhead tackling hunger in the city.

Worcester Foodbank's manager Grahame Lucas has thrown down the gauntlet to the hopefuls, inviting them to visit the charity prior to polling day and witness first-hand the effect food poverty has on households across the city.

Mr Lucas has taken the extra step of reaching out to the candidates in writing, seeking their approval of support for the foodbank's call for an ‘essentials guarantee’.

This would be a commitment to ensure every household has sufficient income to cover the cost of basic necessities.

Additionally, the foodbank is asking for a promise from the candidates to advocate for changes and to exert maximum influence on government policy to bring about a reversal in the rising demand for emergency food aid.

Mr Lucas said: "Ending hunger should be an issue that takes centre stage at this election and yet we’ve heard very little mention of poverty and the struggles which have seen record numbers of people turn to foodbanks across the country."

He added: "We cannot keep relying on the community’s goodwill and generosity to feed the thousands of people who find themselves in crisis because they do not have enough income to cover the cost of essentials.

"We’re giving parliamentary candidates the opportunity to commit to play their part in setting us on a path to ending hunger."

Over the last financial year, nearly 18,000 food parcels were provided to people in crisis by the city's foodbank.

This figure reflects an increase in referrals of roughly a third, which has put considerable pressure on the bank's resources and volunteer team.

In May alone, the Lowesmoor-based charity distributed 707 food parcels.

This figure, up 32 per cent from the same month during the previous year, helped feed over 1,450 people, including 496 children.