A coalition of anti-poverty charities have been urging the Government to set up an independent Food Commission as part of the Good Food Nation Bill.
Charities and campaigners across Scotland have welcomed an announcement from the Scottish Government that ministers will support plans to establish a statutory Food Commission as part of efforts to become a “good food nation”.
Earlier this week Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced SNP ministers will back proposals put forward by the Scottish Greens.
Green MSP Ariane Burgess put forward the plans in an amendment to the Good Food Nation Bill - which is currently going through Holyrood - with government support now meaning it is likely to pass into legislation.
Ms Gougean said introducing this statutory Food Commission would “strengthen the Good Food Nation Bill and provide further impetus on Scotland’s journey to being a good food nation”.
Ms Burgess welcomed the move. She said: “I am delighted that we will now create a statutory Food Commission following constructive engagement with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, fulfilling our shared commitment to a strong Good Food Nation Bill that lays the groundwork for the move towards a sustainable food system across Scotland.
“The new Commission will play a key role, working with national and local government, farmers, crofters, the wider food industry and other stakeholders to build a good food nation across Scotland, encouraging good health, promoting local and environmentally friendly food, improving animal welfare, and supporting the transition of Scotland's food system to net-zero."
The Trussell Trust, the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), the Poverty Alliance, Children in Scotland and other organisations threw their weight behind the move, claiming the commission would provide scrutiny and oversight of national and local food policy.
The coalition of anti-poverty charities previously sent a letter to Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison urging the Government to set up an independent Food Commission as part of the Good Food Nation Bill.
As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, heads of major food bank and other anti-poverty charities have warned that an increasing number of people are being pushed into poverty and are seeking out emergency food supplies that they do not need to cook or refrigerate because of soaring energy prices.
The charities said a Food Commission will drive much-needed reform of Scotland’s food system to one where everyone’s right to food based on adequacy of income is realised.
As part of its role, a Food Commission would monitor and report on the state of food poverty in Scotland, and support people with direct experience of struggling to afford food to be involved in shaping their local food system.
Sabine Goodwin of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) said: “The cost of living crisis is becoming more acute by the day, with one in 10 people in Scotland worrying about putting food on the table.
“We need meaningful food legislation and an independent Food Commission to support Government action.
“We welcome the recent moves by the Government to establish a Food Commission and hope that this action is taken with the passage of the Good Food Nation Bill in the coming days.”
Proposals for a Food Commission enjoy widespread support; senior society leaders, academics and health care professionals in Scotland have also urged the First Minister to set up an independent Food Commission.
The plans were backed by the UK's leading food NGOs and the consumer organisation Which?.
The Good Food Nation Bill is due to be debated and voted into law mid-June.
Polly Jones, head of Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “There are reports of growing numbers of people accessing a food bank for the first time and who are struggling to afford food while in work.
We welcome the news that the Scottish Government is supporting a Food Commission as part of the Good Food Nation Bill.
“The work of the Commission must be informed by people with direct experience of poverty and local food bank workers, to ensure the food system enables more people to afford to feed themselves and their families with dignity.”