SCOTTISH Tories were questioned over their “outrageous” behaviour in Holyrood as they began heckling after an MSP brought up the increase in food bank and warm bank usage.

SNP members were appalled when, after a question from Natalie Don on worsening cost-of-living challenges, the opposition benches began heckling and laughing.

The Presiding Officer was also forced to intervene to ensure the Deputy First Minister was heard over the noise from the Tory seats.

In her question Don, the MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, said it was “no surprise” that the Trussell Trust has reported its busiest period ever between April and September 2022 – distributing more than 116,000 parcels across Scotland.

“Does the deputy FM believe that an increasing reliance on not only food banks – but now warm banks – is illustrative of a Westminster system that is not working for people across Scotland?” she asked.

The question prompted applause through the chamber. As John Swinney, who was standing in for Nicola Sturgeon during her appearance at the British-Irish Council, rose to his feet to agree with the MSP the Tories began making noise.

READ MORE: John Swinney reacts to call for Humza Yousaf to be sacked at FMQs

“I do agree with the point Natalie Don put to me,” he said. Laughter could be heard from the Tories.

“It’s quite a serious issue is it not,” Social Security Secretary Shona Robison told the party members.

“Outrageous – says it all.”

George Adam, MSP for Paisley, was shocked by the exchange.

"To make matter worse the Tories laughed at this!" he tweeted. "Totally shocking behaviour when discussing such a serious issue."

Clydebank MSP Marie McNair added: "It’s a sad day when the Tories think it’s appropriate to laugh, when my colleague @NatalieDon_  raises the serious issue about rising food bank usage."

After FMQs ended, Don told The National that the situation was "appalling".

"This cavalier Tory attitude has underpinned the devastating Westminster policies which have led to an increasing number of people struggling to feed themselves," she said.

"Scotland wants to take a different path - and the Scottish Government is doing all it can with its limited powers to tackle poverty and inequality - but independence is the only way we can escape Tory austerity, Brexit and damaging Westminster governments we don’t vote for for good.”

Maggie Chapman (above), Greens MSP for North East Scotland region, added that nobody has done more to push people to food banks than Tories.

"I can understand why Tory MSPs don't like to be reminded of these facts, but that is no excuse for them to heckle and mock when other MSPs rightly highlight the catastrophic impact of their shameful actions," she told The National.

"One of the many positives of Scottish independence is that we will only be ruled by governments that we vote for. Scotland has rejected the Tories at every election since 1955, just as I am convinced we will do for years to come."

Trussell Trust sees record use

The Trussell Trust issued a stark warning on Thursday after new research showed record-breaking levels of need, with one in five individuals referred to its network now coming from working households.

According to figures from the charity, which provides urgent support to those in poverty, more emergency food parcels were given out during the April to September period than ever before.

The National: Food banks are seeing a big rise in demandFood banks are seeing a big rise in demand (Image: Newsquest)

Over the last six months, 320,000 people have been forced to turn to food banks for the first time, it added.

Nearly 1.3 million food parcels were handed out by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK network over the same period – almost half-a-million of which went to children.

This is double the number provided in the same timeframe before the pandemic and a third more than were given out between April and September last year.

Need is now exceeding donations for the first time in the charity’s history.

READ MORE: Free books for children in Scotland relying on food banks this winter

The trust has warned food banks are now at “breaking point” due to a “tsunami of need” driven by the cost-of-living crisis as it called on the Government to provide adequate support in its upcoming budget.

Josie Barlow, food bank manager at Bradford Food Bank, said: “Someone who came to the food bank recently told me that ‘buying milk is a luxury now’. So many people are struggling with bills and food prices.

“We are fortunate to be able to help people and we work hard to support them in both the short and long term, but we are also facing challenges.

“We have seen a huge increase in people coming to the food bank in the last two months compared with the same period last year and our stock levels are very low for this time of the year.”