OPINION

We need to act now to end food poverty

Posted On 19 Jul 2020 at 10:35 am

The coronavirus crisis has prompted many of us to think more deeply about the kind of world we want to live in when we emerge from the pandemic.

I am sure I’m not alone in wanting to build a more equal society.

According to Jennifer Wallace, head of policy at the Carnegie Trust, Scotland and Wales are already global leaders in seeking to bring about the sort of future that would benefit us all.

An Act to ensure the Wellbeing of Future Generations was passed in the Welsh Parliament more than five years ago. Two similar UK-wide bills are currently going through the various stages in Westminster.

Having looked in detail at the Welsh Act, I share its aims. It includes many objectives that the council is already seeking to embed at a local level here in Brighton and Hove.

However, the idea of thriving communities, where everyone has the opportunity to make the best of their life, is not compatible with the politics of austerity.

It is clear to me that the situation of the poorest families in our city, who were already struggling, has worsened during the pandemic.

The cost of providing emergency food during the crisis has risen to £200,000, with £170,000 of extra funding coming from the council.

I must thank those who contributed to the Hungry at Home crowdfunding appeal, which raised a further £30,000.

Across the UK, more than four million children live in poverty. We need long-term solutions that prevent families being left with so little they cannot even decide their own grocery shopping list.

The wellbeing of future generations depends on the health and vitality of the current one.

We must reimagine our communities, our society and our world. But we need to act now to end food poverty.

I’ll leave the last word to footballer Marcus Rashford, who led the successful campaign to give children most in need free school meals throughout the summer holidays.

“Political affiliations aside,” he said, “can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?”

Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

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