Charities awarded cash to find more dignified solution
A three year charity project to eradicate the need for foodbanks has been given nearly £1 million in funding by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland.
Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish and The Poverty Alliance have joined forces with the aim of evolving the response to food poverty in Scotland from foodbanks to tackling the underlying causes.
The project – called A Menu for Change: Cash, Rights, Food – has been awarded £998,882 and will be formally launched in 2017.
It will seek to reduce the need for and reliance on emergency food aid by identifying and working intensively in three local authorities and using the lessons learned to influence the national response.
It will see alternative more dignified services and approaches piloted to reduce the number of people who have no option but to turn to foodbanks such as making people more aware of crisis money available on the Scottish Welfare Fund as well as supporting community cafes or food cooperatives.
Critically, the project’s delivery organisations will work closely with strategic partners including the Trussell Trust, FareShare and Community Food and Health Scotland.
Oxfam responds to food crises globally but the hunger we see in communities across Scotland isn’t created by a lack of food, it is caused by poverty
Hunger has grown in Scotland with the number of emergency food packages handed out by the Trussell Trust increasing by more than 900% in three years up to 2015/16.
Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, 133,726 people were given three days of emergency food.
However, the full scale of food insecurity is significantly higher with figures from other emergency food aid providers not collected nationally and a lack of monitoring of those adopting coping strategies like skipping meals.
Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Oxfam responds to food crises globally but the hunger we see in communities across Scotland isn’t created by a lack of food, it is caused by poverty.
“People across Scotland have responded incredibly whether by volunteering at a foodbank or donating cash and food. However, the truth is that foodbanks should not need to exist at all – everyone should have enough money to afford food and other essentials.”
Echoing Livingstone’s view John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, added: “There is no shortage of food in Scotland. The fundamental problem is that too many people are being left without enough money to feed themselves and their families.”
All four project partners were members of the Scottish Government’s independent working group on food poverty.
The group called for dignity and rights to be at the heart of the response to food insecurity and a transition away from emergency food aid as the primary response.
Pete Ritchie, director of Nourish Scotland, said: “Together over the next three years we will build and strengthen joined-up, inclusive and dignified local responses to food insecurity which help to realise the right to food, while recognising that we have a mountain to climb in tackling the deep-rooted causes of inequality and poverty in Scotland.”
Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance, added: “This project will help those who need it, whether they are in or out of work.
“By bringing local authorities, advice organisations and those involved in local food projects together, we can find long-term solutions to the problem of food insecurity in Scotland.”
Confirming the funding, Maureen McGinn, chair of The Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to support this innovative project which aims to tackle the causes of food insecurity and improve responses to it.
“We are particularly impressed by the strategic vision and partnership working central to this project which involves stakeholders across Scotland.
“This work truly has the potential to bring about positive and long-lasting change in Scotland.”