World Food Day and The Foodbanks

Marlyn Glen

16 October 2013

Today is World Food Day .

It is time when the global scandal of over 840 million people going hungry in a world of plenty stirs the international conscience.

In Britain, this year’s World Food Day has a special significance .

Traditionally we think of the Red Cross as an internationally-focused humanitarian aid agency .

 However, for the first time since World War Two , the Red Cross will become involved in the collection and distribution of food for the hungry across this country.

Their intervention shows how serious the situation in Britain has become, and indeed, the Trussell Trust indicates that foodbanks have helped more than 350,000 people , including over 120,000 children, in the past 6 months, triple the numbers in the same period last year.

The Trust also revealed that the extent of people’s hardship was such that some had begun to return food that required to be heated back to the foodbanks because they could not afford to pay for the electricity to warm the food up.

 Increased use of foodbanks has arisen from household incomes being outstripped by rising prices in general , increases in gas and electricity prices, and low income benefits being depressed even further by shameful measures such as the Bedroom Tax as people struggle to feed their families.

 David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society is one which “empowers communities” by encouraging active participation through volunteerism and this includes foodbanks.

Just before last Christmas, the Mirror reported an exchange at Prime Minister’s Question Time :

“ David Cameron was branded out of touch today after hailing the huge increase in reliance on food banks as an example of the Big Society he wants to build.”

His idea of the Big Society is as a creeping displacement for our Welfare State that eventually replaces it.

Locally-based provisions rather than nationally provision would take over, and there would be no means whereby there would be an equitable distribution of resources across the country - the very reason why the  post-1945 Welfare State came into being.

I applaud those who give freely of their time and effort to maintain foodbanks to provide much needed assistance to those in a crisis.

The Trussell Trust is not a passive participant in all of its commendable work.

 It has already spoken out calling for action on the level of poverty , with its Executive Chairman, Chris Mould saying,

 “ We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to foodbanks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse.

 “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.

 “It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people.

 “The time has come for an official and in depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of foodbanks.

 “As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we needto act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.”

That's what we call a Good Society, not a Tory Big Society.

Trussell Trust link : click on the image above

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