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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Are foodbanks an indictment of our times?

This poll is almost 6 years old

​Foodbank use is growing rapidly - is this a mark of shame for our society or a healthy response to social need. Or both? Tell us what you think.

What do you think of foodbanks?

They are an indictment of our times
They are a great response to social need

Foodbanks: are they an indictment of the times we live in or a brilliant way of helping those in most need?

This week, the Trussell Trust, which provides a significant proportion of the country’s emergency food provision, announced that the number of people using its facilities will hit record proportions this Christmas.

Martin Johnstone, secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Church & Society Council who is also chair of an independent Food Poverty Working Group, said that more needed to be done to help the needy: “What we have is more and more people without enough money to live on. At some point, and quickly, we need to be addressing the root causes of the ever escalating numbers of people being forced into food poverty.

“As a society we have to stop believing that foodbanks will solve the problem of food poverty. They are important in stopping individuals and families going hungry this Christmas, but they cannot solve the problem we face.”

This is a burning issue – as well as the new Trussell Trust figures, TFN recently revealed that the problem of hunger in the UK is much worse than previously thought - and a series of pilot projects are to start next yearin Ibrox and Irvine where schools will open at weekends and holidays to feed poor families.

So what do you think – are foodbanks an indictment of our times – or a fantastic response to those in need? Or both?

This is a complex, nuanced issue and this poll is designed as the starting point for a debate – if you feel strongly, please leave a comment below.

Voting in this poll has now closed


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Ian Davidson
almost 6 years ago
Having worked as an outreach CAB adviser to a FB in Glasgow, my observations are: 1. Clients don't want to use FBs but are forced to due to lack of income; in most cases due to DWP benefit issues plus debt, health problems etc. Any of us could end up in this state if life throws us a wobbly; 2. FB workers & volunteers would prefer if their services were not required; however it seems likely that FBs will be required until 2020 or beyond, given benefit cuts etc. 3. Whilst I don't agree with every Trussel Trust policy, I applaud the TC for taking the initiative and developing a FB network to meet need. If this task had been left to national or local bureaucrats, it would have failed due to "red tape" and excessive running costs etc. 4. Let us focus our energies on reducing the need for FBs by: a. Opposing further UK benefit cuts; b. Ensuring that Scotland maximises its existing and forthcoming welfare powers/budgets to alleviate poverty!
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Craig Crosthwaite
almost 6 years ago
I currently coordinate a Foodbank and have been working with the Education Department for three years to provide meals to children over the holiday periods - so the work you note for Irvine next year is not anything new. Welcomed but not new. I am trying to get a community supermarket off the grounds - but securing stock is proving difficult. This would break dependency and increase resilience and hopefully close down all food support systems ( a big dream). I wonder if all the finger pointing at Foodbanks also includes any activities that support people with food - Salvation Army, soup / kitchens of any kind, lunch clubs, breakfast clubs, grow your own food? I have assisted over 10,000 people but feel more condemned for doing so than congratulated. Please stopped referring only to Foodbanks and discuss the issue acknowledging that there are many other food support systems and if one is an indictment then they all are equally an indictment. civil Servants recently referred to the eradication of Foodbanks but congratulated others on their good works on providing access to food - yet my Foodbank does more than emergency food parcels and was still seen as a blot. The discussion is lopsided. Please find a way of discussing food issues in a more generic and inclusive way.