People living in food poverty either don’t have enough money to buy sufficient nutritious food, struggle to get it because it is not easily accessible in their community, or both.
The people of Britain face an extremely uncertain future. The Trussell Trust gave out 2.1 million emergency food parcels between April 2021 and March 2022, an increase of 14 per cent compared to the same period between 2019 and 2020.
Our MP and likely next PM’s only advice to families? “Work harder!”
Every Thursday morning, I volunteer at a Community Shop in Thetford. We provide discounted shopping items to supplant and as an alternative to Food Bank provision. Anecdotally, a good majority of our customers are in full-time work. Some have two or on rare occasions even three jobs to make ends meet. Around 72 per cent of children in families struggling to afford food have at least one parent who works, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.
I’m really not sure how much harder they can or indeed should work in the sixth largest economy in the world.
The UK’s food poverty rate is among the highest in Europe with millions struggling to access the food they need. According to the Food Foundation the situation is getting worse. A total of 7.3 million adults and 2.6 million children experienced food poverty in April 2022.
This includes our area where I am told loan sharks are now using their entrepreneurial skills to prey on the poor on at least one Thetford estate.
Local authority budget cuts and a failing welfare safety net are a major driver of food bank use, with the five-week wait for Universal Credit, the two-child limit and the benefit cap among some of the policies trapping people in poverty.
Where I do agree with Ms Truss is that people do not want to rely on handouts.
This is a broken system, not a temporary crisis that can be fixed with a little bit of tinkering at the edges.
The time for handouts has gone.
The time for doing nothing has gone.
The time for action is now.