St Helens Labour Council has given its full backing to a growing campaign calling for the Right to Food to be included in the government’s new National Food Strategy.
The campaign, led by national grassroots football fan network Fans Supporting Foodbanks and backed by Ian Byrne, Labour MP for West Derby, aims to put the human ‘Right to Food’ for all onto a legislative footing in Parliament. Labour’s spokesperson for Fighting Poverty Cllr Andy Bowden proposed the motion, and it was seconded by Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Cllr Nova Charlton.
Covid has exposed the inequalities in our society, including food poverty:
- 81% increase in emergency food parcels during March 2020 compared to March 2019
- Around 7,000 food parcels provided by St Helens Foodbank during 2020
- More than 1,250 food parcels provided by St Helens Borough Council to vulnerable families
- Over 37,000 meals and food parcels provided by local voluntary, community and faith sector since March 2020
- An increase of more than 1,000 pupils eligible for free school meals in February 2021 compared to March 2020, now more than 6,200 in total
Labour councillor Andy Bowden says: “Everyone should have enough money to feed their family. Work should pay enough to live on, and the benefits system should be a proper safety net.
Labour councillor Nova Charlton says: “The National Food strategy review is long overdue and has come at a time when the Covid pandemic has laid bare the stark social and economic inequalities that exist across our communities. Despite the incredible community response across the Borough, poverty is becoming further entrenched, with the pandemic disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable households.
Food poverty and insecurity is a significant challenge in the Borough. No child or family should be going hungry in the 6th richest country in the world and we must stamp out food poverty.”
Enshrining the ‘Right To Food’ into law would clarify Government obligations on food poverty and introduce legal avenues to hold Government bodies accountable for violations. Among other positives, the introduction of a legal ‘Right to Food’ would by necessity end the five-week wait for Universal Credit and mean that Premier League footballers are not required to shame Government into feeding hungry children during school holidays.
Find out more about the Right to Food campaign: https://www.sustainweb.org/righttofood/