I am delighted to support the #RightToFood campaign led by good friend, Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne. Before becoming an MP Ian founded the Fans Supporting Foodbanks a joint initiative between Liverpool and Everton supporters to tackle food poverty in the City.
In parliament, Ian is going further by calling on the Government to introduce a #RightToFood law to ensure that no one must rely on foodbanks to feed themselves and their families.
There are 11 million people living in food poverty in the UK. This means that 11 million people are choosing between eating and heating their homes on a daily basis.
The North East has the second highest child poverty rate in the UK at 37%, and there has been a 26% increase in food bank usage in the region since 2019/20.
Easington constituency saw a 10.7% increase in child poverty from 2014/15 to 2019/20, which has no doubt only increased further during the pandemic.
The Government needs to be held accountable for the ever-increasing number of people living in poverty and food insecurity in East Durham and across the UK.
I have signed Early Day Motion 1251 calling for the Right to Food to be enshrined in UK law. The law would hold the Government to account for the raging inequality that has only got worse during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government would be required to fix the broken benefits system and Universal Credit which has pushed so many people into poverty and severely increased foodbank usage.
Since the start of the pandemic, an extra 427,000 school pupils became eligible for free school meals. The Independent Food Network recorded a 126% increase in the number of food parcels distributed between February 2020 and May 2020.
How can it be acceptable that in the UK, one of the world’s richest countries, millions of people are going hungry every day and are living with the constant fear of where their next meal is going to come from.
The work of Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford has been instrumental in feeding hungry children during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, child food poverty should be addressed by the Government and should not fall upon public generosity, charity or footballers.
Levels of food poverty are showing no sign of reducing after 11 years of a Conservative government that have cut away the social security safety net. Therefore, it is essential that we see the #RightToFood enshrined in UK law to ensure no one goes hungry.