Hundreds of families face food poverty in Brighton and Hove, according to councillors.
In a debate at Hove Town Hall they called for a commitment from the government to end hunger.
Labour councillor Tracey Hill asked Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, about food bank use and children going hungry in the school holidays.
Councillor Hill said that food poverty was a “symptom of our unequal society”, with eight million people in Britain having trouble putting food on the table.
She said that food poverty was about hard choices of food versus fuel, skipping meals and making cheaper unhealthier food choices.
The Hollingdean and Stanmer ward councillor said that one in five people in Brighton and Hove do not think that they have enough money to pay their rent and buy food, according to the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
She said: “In 2018, 17 food banks in the city supplied a total of 358 parcels a week, a 25 per cent increase on 2014.
“A Food Partnership report from 2019 showed an increase to 21 emergency food providers currently distributing around 420 food parcels per week, with food banks reporting particular increases in demand from families, vulnerably housed people and young people.
“Food bank use is often used to measure food poverty but in practice only identifies the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as most households will only use them as a last resort.”
She spoke out at the full council meeting on Thursday (30 January), with support from fellow Labour councillor Amanda Evans.
Councillor Evans said that her own childhood was marred by poverty but she had never head of a food bank or bin-diving.
She said: “We’re barely shocked any more, but we should be. Twenty per cent here in Brighton don’t have enough money to meet their basic living costs, including food, rising to 33 per cent of people with health problems or disabilities.
“When Labour left office in 2010, there was one food bank in the whole of Sussex.
“Now there are 21 in Brighton alone, and more across Britain than branches of McDonald’s.”
“Shame on the Conservatives for what they have done to this country in one short decade.”
Green councillor Sue Shanks said that the council could be more courageous about finding money to tackle school holiday hunger.
She said: “I’m a very lucky person. I don’t remember being hungry and being able as a mother to provide meals for my children – whether they liked them or not.
“For many women in our city today that is not the case. Many women really struggle to feed their children and particularly in the summer holidays (and) in any school holidays.”
She recommended volunteering with Chomp, an organisation providing activities and a hot meal for families at various locations throughout Brighton and Hove.
Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen backed Councillor Hill and said: “Food poverty has no place in the 21st century.
“We could even go a step further and declare a public health emergency.”
He said that food poverty was linked to housing issues but questioned whether austerity was the issue.
Councillor Bagaeen said that France had more food banks but did not have austerity policies to the same extent as Britain.
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