Martin Cooper, a member of the justice and peace group at St Mary the Virgin church in Monkseaton, Tyneside, wrote this article about our new campaign on the Right to Food for his church newsletter, and has kindly given permission for us to reprint it here.
I donated some food items to the Whitley Bay Food Bank at Sainsbury’s in the few days before Christmas. I felt it was the least that I could do, considering what I was spending on food for my family to celebrate Christmas. But I also wondered just how long food banks would continue to be needed in places like Whitley Bay. Britain is not a poor country. In fact, in 2014 Britain’s GDP was fifth highest in the world. What is going on?
The national ecumenical organisation Church Action on Poverty is making the need for Food Justice in Britain its main campaign in 2016. It hopes to make the government take seriously the commitment to a right to food for everyone, which Britain has signed up to as part of the International Declaration of Human Rights. Church Action on Poverty argues that it has become all too easily accepted that thousands of people need the help of food banks to feed their families and attention is not being focused on government policies which have contributed to this situation (failure to ensure payment of a living wage, changes to the welfare system, sanctioning of those claiming benefits).
A report for The Fabian Society, Hungry for Change (October 2015), has as its main long-term aims that “everyone in the UK should have secure access to nutritious, sustainable food they can afford” and that “food banks and other forms of charitable food provision should become unnecessary by 2020”. If you would like to become involved in Church Action on Poverty’s campaign or would simply like more information you can visit www.church-poverty.org.uk/righttofood
The campaign is likely to take the form of coordinated days of action, national lobbying of parliament and giving a voice to those most affected by food poverty. Church Action on Poverty recognises and supports the work of food banks. However, it is committed to the aim of making them no longer necessary. Christians are called to help the poor. Sometimes this means working and campaigning for a more just society and not accepting the idea that, somehow, poverty and food poverty are inevitable.
Support our campaign for the Right to Food! Could you write an article like this for your own church newsletter?