Ashfield MP making headlines again with controversial food bank remarks

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson has been making national headlines again – this time for remarks about food banks.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 8:28 am

Mr Anderson has been branded ‘out of touch’ for saying people needed to learn how to cook and budget ‘properly’, rather than use food banks.

He made the comments in the Commons during a debate about the Queen’s Speech.

He hailed a ‘brilliant scheme’ in his constituency, where food bank users ‘have to register for a budgeting course and cooking course’.

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Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashfield.

Mr Anderson said: “We show them how to cook cheap and nutrious meals on a budget, we can make a meal for about 30p a day, cooking from scratch.”

However, responding to a question from Labour MP Alex Cunningham about the need for food banks in the 21st Century, Mr Anderson – who has carried out cooking challenges to show what can be made from food bank stapes – said: “There’s not massive use for food banks in this country.

“We’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, can’t cook a meal from scratch, they cannot budget.”

Inviting Opposition MPs to see the scheme for themselves, he said: “The challenge is there. Come to Ashfield, come to a real food bank that’s making a real difference to people’s lives.”

However, SNP MP Joanna Cherry, the subsequent speaker in the Commons debate, told Mr Anderson people do not use food banks because they do not know how to cook, but because ‘we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government’.

And Labour’s Karen Buck said his remarks were ‘beyond belief’.

Defending his remarks after making national headlines, Mr Anderson posted on his Facebook page: “I did not say poor people cannot cook or there is no need for food banks.

“I said there is not the need currently being parrotted out by the MSM.

“I challenged the Parliamentary Labour Party to come to Ashfield to visit the food bank I work with. They give food parcels away on the condition people enroll for cooking and budgeting lessons.

“My offer stands. Come to Ashfield.”

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Food poverty campaigner Jack Monroe Tweeted: “You can’t cook meals from scratch with nothing. You can’t buy cheap food with nothing.

“The issue is not ‘skills’, it’s 12 years of Conservative cuts to social support.

“The square root of nothing is always going to be nothing, no matter how creatively you’re told to dice it.

“For a party so keen to push personal fiscal responsibility back onto the most vulnerable individuals, the Conservatives are remarkably reticent to take any degree of responsibility for deliberately pushing those people into such difficult desperate situations in the first place.”

The Ashfield Independents political group have also hit out at Mr Anderson.

Coun Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader, who was beaten by Mr Anderson at the 2019 General Election, but is standing for parliament again, said, “To suggest people use food banks because they can’t budget and cook is ludicrous. He is so out of touch – it is an insult to the whole Ashfield community.

“People from Ashfield are not like Mr Anderson. We are suffering from real poverty – 30 per cent of families are now claiming free school meals and the cost of living crisis is hitting us harder than almost anywhere else.”