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Food poverty is a national emergency - governments must act now

This news post is almost 2 years old

The crisis is acute – but the response from those in power has been lacking

Governments must declare a national food emergency as part of a fightback against the cost of living crisis.

Food insecurity and a lack of access to good, nutritious sustenance is a major crisis in working class communities – and things are getting worse as rising inflation, flatlining wages and rocketing fuel costs drive more people into poverty.

The problem is such that access to food must be declared a national emergency, says the chief executive of a voluntary organisation which is on the front line in the battle against food poverty.

Angela Moohan of The Larder, a West Lothian charity which supports young people and adults through employability and food insecurity projects, says a new approach must be taken that goes beyond the foodbank model.

Moohan says that charity efforts such as foodbanks have been crucial but can only go so far – and that real, far reaching action by governments at both Westminster and Holyrood is a priority.

The crisis is acute – but the response from those in power has been lacking.

A recent Food Foundation report showed that across the UK the number experiencing food insecurity has jumped by 57%.

That’s 7.3 million adults living in households where people have gone without food or could not physically access it.

However, just this week the UK Tory government effectively ditched the recommendations of a major review of food strategy, fearing a backlash from Conservative MPs.

A new white paper strategy instead contained almost no measures to tackle the cost of rising food prices, with charities saying it is a massive “wasted opportunity”.

There has been more progress in Scotland with a good food nation bill currently going through Holyrood, but campaigners have expressed dismay that it is not strong enough to meet the challenge and that it fails to take steps to enshrine the right to food in law – a major call from Scotland’s voluntary sector.

However, news that a food commission will be set up to monitor food policy in Scotland has been welcomed.

Moohan made her call as civil society prepares for a weekend of action on the cost of living crisis, with unions holding a mass demonstration on Saturday and the STUC and Poverty Alliance hosting a summit.

She says the trade union movement must take up the call for governments to declare a national food emergency.

Writing in TFN, she said: “Make no mistake about it, this is a major crisis in working class communities… the number of people struggling to survive is soaring and will get worse unless there is immediate action to stop it.  So what do we need to do? 

“At The Larder, we recognise that foodbanks have played a necessary role in helping feed hungry people but we have to move away from a charitable model of the deserving and undeserving poor that provides poor food for poor people, to a system based on dignity, equality of access, social solidarity and mutual support. As with all steps to truly eradicate any kind of poverty, we need governments to take real action. One step that both governments could be taking now is to begin to enshrine the right to food in law and fund grassroots community organisations to deliver sustainable food with dignity in their area.”

Read Angela Moohan’s blog here.



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