Leading church figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury have called on UK politicians to launch a blueprint to eliminate hunger in Britain by 2020.
Archbishop Justin Welby described the soaring use of foodbanks in the UK as shocking as he made a plea to the Government for £100,000 to kick-start a new organisation Feeding Britain.
The move comes as the Chad steps up its One Tin a Month campaign – calling on readers to support the town’s foodbanks in a bid to prevent youngsters from going to bed hungry.
The Feeding Britain report was prompted by concern over the “unprecedented” numbers of people depending on food banks in the UK – which one charity has labelled a “national scandal”.
It called for action to speed the processing of benefits to ensure new claimants are not left for weeks without an income; stop “rip-off” companies charging higher prices to the poor; and end the “scandal” which sees millions of tonnes of waste food destroyed by supermarkets and food manufacturers.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Families are facing a quadruple whammy of depressed wages, a malfunctioning benefits system, cuts to state support and unaffordable bills for energy, food and housing. It’s a national scandal that ever more families are resorting to food banks to feed their children and it’s imperative that this report’s call for action is answered.”
The JFA Mansfield Community Foodbank Partnership and the Sherwood Forest Foodbank set up by the Trussel Trust organisation offer the last line of support, helping to feed those who are hungry when there is nowhere else to turn.
Chad is supporting both organisations and we hope our big hearted readers can help them rise to the challenge this Christmas.
If half of the population of Mansfield donated just one tin of food to a foodbank, nobody in the town would have to go hungry.
The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK found that, since the establishment of the Trussell Trust network in 2004, the number of emergency food assistance providers has grown to at least 1,500.
The charity, which has a food bank on Church Street, Mansfield said that its 420 UK food banks had helped 913,138 people in 2013/14 – a huge rise from 128,697 in 2011/12.
The report said it was “clear that demand for emergency food assistance is increasing, and sometimes increasing dramatically”.
In Mansfield the Trussel Trust said for the first six months of the year, the number of food parcels handed out exceeded the total for the whole of the previous year.
Big-hearted shoppers recently donated three tons of shopping at Tesco and collections are being held at Morrisons Mansfield Woodhouse up to 21st December.
The report found many people turn to food banks to avoid hunger during “unimaginable” waits for benefit claims to be processed, while others have been left without an income for weeks or months because of benefit sanctions.
And the support networks of family and community which would once have helped those facing hunger appear to have “diminished”, leaving individuals “isolated and exposed” at times of financial crisis.
It called for the establishment of a national organisation Feeding Britain, to drive a campaign to end hunger, and urged the Government to help fund 12 pilot projects across the UK.
It also called for a “co-ordinated response” from government to reduce hunger, which included ensuring schools take action on children arriving in the morning unfed.
The Voluntary Mansfield Community Food-Bank Partnership was set up by the Joint Forces Alliance and has already provided two weeks food parcels for an estimated 300 people in Mansfield.
They have been asking people to support their monthly donations for people struggling and they’re also involved in supporting the homeless in the winter.
Jason Rathbone, who set up the project two years ago, said: “The one a month campaign is where we encourage everyone who can to give just one tin or packet of food a month to any of your local food banks. Together we can end food poverty overnight, if we mean it. We try to provide two week’s food at any one time for the people who are referred to us.
“It’s not just the homeless needing food , but those living in poverty, the situation is bad at the moment and is possibly going to get worse.
“Mansfield has a population of 100,000-plus, and if we can get half of them bringing in one tin a month, that’s 50,000 we’ll have and nobody need go hungry.”
Donations of food can be dropped off at Mansfield Advicehub, Regent Street; Pleasley Landmark Centre on Chesterfield Road South, Buddies Bright Square, Bull Farm; William Ireland Hall Clumber Court, Mansfield; Westfield Lane Community Centre, CVS on Barrow Hill Walk Oaktree Lane estate; Probation Services, Arrival Square Mansfield.
Money contributions are welcome - JFA need to put fuel in the van and buy fuel for the cooker.
If you want to make a cash donation, text jfas36 followed by a £ and the amount to 70070, for example : jfa36£5.
We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us what you are doing to help us Feed a Family this Christmas. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.