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A Right to Food: Labour will halve food bank usage within a year

Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, will today (Tuesday) announce that the next Labour government will halve food bank usage within its first year of office. Labour will set a target of ending the need for food banks altogether within its first three years, requiring different food security measures to be taken across several local and central government departments.

Food insecurity has soared in Britain since Labour left office in 2010. There are now 2,000 food banks across the UK. Last year, a record 1.6m emergency food parcels were distributed by the Trussell Trust. The Food Foundation estimates that 4 million children in Britain are now at risk of malnutrition as a result of living in poverty. Brexit and climate change both threaten even more insecurity to our national food systems.

Labour will ensure that everyone in the UK has a Right to Food by enshrining it in UK law, in a new Fair Food Act. The new law will create a National Food Commission to monitor food insecurity, make recommendations to governments and oversee all aspects of the food system in Britain. A £6m Access to Food Fund will be established to kick start the development of local community food plans in the 50 most food deprived areas of the country. Locally developed community food plans would help to improve community based local food systems. Plans could establish local food markets, community gardens, community shops and kitchens, or to improve allotment management and educate or train local people on healthy diets, household food management or food cultivation skills.

The main reasons for referrals to food banks are changes made to the benefit system, delays to benefit payments and punitive benefit sanctions. The food-specific work will complement Labour’s commitments to benefits reform and income enhancing measures, for paid and unpaid workers and for those seeking or unable to work.

Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s Shadow Food and Environment Secretary, said “In the world’s sixth richest country, it is a scandal that people are going hungry. This government’s mean-spirited welfare policies and failure to think differently that has brought the situation to crisis point. Climate change and a reckless No Deal Brexit threaten to make the issue of food insecurity even worse.

“Food is a basic human right. The next Labour government will introduce a Right to Food in a Fair Food Act. We will make sure no one in the country needs to go hungry.

“We will kick start our efforts to build secure, community-based local food system with a £6m Access to Food Fund, initially targeted at the areas of the country with the highest levels of food insecurity.”