We are Labour members and supporters standing in solidarity with the millions of people in the UK experiencing food poverty. We support the fantastic work charities are doing on this issue and urge our supporters to get involved. However, we believe that, in a country with no shortage of food, policy change is the only effective long-term solution to hunger.
In 2019 we campaigned for the Labour Party to adopt our Charter on Hunger, an ambitious strategy to eliminate food poverty entirely – based on the right to food, a living wage and social justice. We were delighted that Labour’s 2019 election manifesto included most of its measures.
There is a crisis of hunger in Britain today
In the UK there is no shortage of food, yet thousands of people are going hungry. Children arrive in school unfed, adults regularly miss meals, and the disabled are hit particularly hard. There are more than 2,000 food banks, compared to just 20 in 2009. Britain’s biggest food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, gave out over 1.6 million emergency food parcels last year. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ashamed that they need to seek help, many people survive on insufficient food for months before turning to food banks.
This crisis of hunger results from deliberate political choices. Since 2010 government has slashed the welfare safety net – freezing and capping benefits, implementing a punitive sanctions regime and introducing Universal Credit, where claimants have to wait five weeks, sometimes longer, for their first payment. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of these policies; almost a third now live in poverty.
The voluntary response to food poverty has been magnificent but charities cannot and should not do the work of government. We urge you to join us in fighting food poverty in the UK and campaigning for a just and compassionate welfare system.