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April 23, 2014

Food as a human right

Opinion seems split over food banks. They’re either a measure of a community’s compassion or a damning indictment of the government’s welfare reforms. Even the Government seems split. While the Prime Minister’s was heaping praise on this community response as part of his ‘Britain is Christian’ speech, Iain Duncan Smith was attacking the Trussell Trust for being manipulative and publicity seeking. It’s an irrelevant argument say others. Food is a basic human right and there is a growing belief that the UK is in breach of international law.


Staff writers

More than 20 charities, including the Trussell Trust, the Child Poverty Action Group and Church Action on Poverty have signed a statement accusing the UK of violating the basic right to food.

The action follows a letter to the government from 600 Christian clergy and bishops seeking urgent action on the scandal of foodbanks and food poverty, a smiler statement today from Jewish leaders, and the nationwide End Hunger Fast – backed by the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia and many others – in solidarity with 900,000 people going hungry or short of food.

“It is our opinion that the UK has violated the human right to food and breached international law.

“This state of affairs is both avoidable and unnecessary. We call on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that the no one in the UK is denied their most basic right to sufficient and adequate food,” the common statement says.

A public vigil was held opposite Parliament at 6pm yesterday (16 April 2014) by members of the End Hunger Fast campaign.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi at Movement for Reform Judaism were among those present.

The Barrow-Cadbury trust has backed the report ‘Going Hungry? The Human Right to Food in the UK’, from the new Just Fair Consortium, which was launched recently.

This sets out the situation facing those on the breadline in austerity Britain, and the case for change.

The UK government and the Department of Work and Pensions are continuing to deny that there is a problem, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said: “The growing gap between the UK government’s complacent rhetoric about positive economic indicators and the demonstrable reality of food poverty points towards the need for a change of heart as well as policy in Britain today.

“Faith and civic leaders are right to press for radical change. Welfare and public spending cuts, the lower income wage squeeze, underemployment, youth joblessness, child and family poverty, and a recovery built on consumption and benefitting mostly the more prosperous — all this is leaving many people in dire straights.

“The answer is not top-down decisions made by millionaire cabinet members and remote Whitehall departments, but the practical engagement of people living at the sharp end in remaking social and economic policy for the benefit of the majority.”

* Report: ‘Going Hungry? The Human Right to Food in the UK’ (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document):…

* More on End Hunger Fast from Ekklesia: