Current system places a reliance on emergency food aid
Foodbanks can become a thing of the past but only with significant changes to the food and welfare system, according to a new report.
The study, a collaboration between anti-poverty workers, aims to tackle structural food poverty and the ever-increasing rates of food bank use.
The current support is inadequate, the authors say, with insufficient resources leaving third sector organisations to plug the substantial gaps.
To move away from this patchwork of assistance, the report demands a cash first approach, including the rapid roll out of a Universal Basic Income pilot, with citizens provided with a guaranteed income to support the cost of living.
Speaking about the report at an online event today is Sabine Goodwin from The Independent Food Aid Network, who said: “The report’s focus on a cash first approach to tackling growing food poverty is very welcome. To see a Scotland without the need for food banks, we need to address the causes of the poverty driving food insecurity as well as disentangle the conflation of the food waste and food poverty problems.
“We also very much welcome the report’s focus on the needs of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants with no recourse to public funds. The report is an invaluable addition to a body of evidence behind the Scottish Government’s draft national plan for ending the need for food banks.”
The report heard case studies from eight Glaswegian asylum-seekers who shared stories of poverty, mental health issues, exclusion and poor diet.
Asma Abdalla from Empower Women For Change said: “Food poverty and insecurity are hitting asylum-seekers very hard. Receiving only £37 per week has put them in a situation where they must choose between buying food or other household essentials including sanitizing products to stay safe from Covid. The situation for people with no recourse to public funds is worse.
“We believe ensuring that vulnerable people are food secure is the government’s responsibility especially as the UK is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Food security in the UK should be equal for all, and the needs of asylum-seekers shouldn’t be left to charities but should be part of the UK Government’s mandatory responsibilities.”
The authors see food as an ‘emergency crisis support’ issue, but instead want to see food support social cohesion. To do this, they want supply chains localised, which will build power and wealth in local communities while also supporting more climate-friendly forms of food production.
Chair of Glasgow Community Food Network, Abi Mordin said: “This is a great piece of work from a dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable team. There’s some hard-hitting realities in here but also some exciting solutions and positive steps that must be taken at policy level. Glasgow Community Food Network and partners want to see a food system where everyone has equal access to affordable and culturally appropriate food. The cash first approach, along with addressing the root causes of inequality are an important part of that picture.
“The conclusions of this report further support the aims of the Glasgow City Food Plan. The Plan is a routemap to a fair and healthy food system for Glasgow, and it’s going to take collective action to get there.”