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March 11, 2015

A step change for food justice

In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein describes how so many of us are effectively complicit in climate change denial. We read the compelling evidence but then employ all manner of tactics to justify inaction.  Or we look momentarily at the problem but then turn away, simply because we can. But for millions, turning away is no longer an option.  It seems we may have a similar pattern of response to the scandal of food poverty in this country. Last week, a packed gathering in Govan took the first steps towards a society beyond food banks. 


In Glasgow on Saturday the seeds were sown for a food justice movement in Scotland.

Hear some of the voices from the event here

Govan, birthplace of people’s political activism in this country, hosted a Church of Scotland organised event – in collaboration with the Centre for Human Ecology and Faith in Community Scotland – exploring how sustainable food equality can be achieved.

Over 200 people – community food growing experts, activists, food bank volunteers – shared their experience of tackling the growing crisis of food access decline in one of the richest countries in the world.

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council, said: “This has been an incredible day. It is the beginning of a movement. It was not about coming together and just talking about food banks. It was about finding ways for sustainable food justice in Scotland. We have brought a lot of people here who are on the ground day in day out. They have expertise on how we can move this crisis response forward and achieve fair access to food for all. Change has begun.”

The keynote speaker at the conference was Rachel Gray, executive director of The Stop Community Food Centre in Canada.

She shared the experience of over 35 years of food banks in Canada and how her organisation has evolved the food bank format to help people increase their dignity, health and challenge inequality.

She said: “We know that food banks don’t work at addressing poverty. We hope very much that Scotland will take a firm stand on this issue. That it will look at the consequences of not investing in food security and see the devastation that poverty will cause to the health of the nation.”

Community food growth, political activism, enshrinement of the right to food in Scots Law, alternative food production systems and ensuring the word ‘food bank’ did not become entrenched in the national consciousness were among the array of ideas being shared.

The task now is to channel this desire for change into action. In the second half of 2015 the Church of Scotland will convene a follow-up event – Beyond Foodbanks 2 – to further root the movement and focus on the details necessary for success.