One of the things that really hurts to see reported in the mass media is learning about how people are suffering with food poverty in the UK. Food poverty is on the rise and as a result we are seeing more food banks opening across the UK, the statistics provided by Oxfam in their yearly food poverty reports state that although the UK is the seventh richest country in the world many people are struggling to afford food and to stay nourished.
We live in the western world and fundamentally I feel food should be available to all, food should be cherished and respected and in essence it should be in a well looked after supply chain where food goes to every mouth in the country without people going hungry. We have the finances to do this, but we don’t do it and as a result 1 in 6 parents have gone without food to feed their children, 2 million people in the UK are malnourished and 3 million people are at risk of becoming malnourished.
Distribution of food in the community food banks can not build a culture of dependency but can only fight fires and these fires are hungry stomachs – people with low-income, benefit sanctions, destitution, people facing homelessness, loss of earnings – the list goes on. It is easy to see the food bank donation bins in supermarkets and walk past without considering where this food is going and who it is going to, it may be to the family in my area that I walk past when walking up my high street with my bags of shopping in my hand. This concerns me. I am lucky, I have a wage and as a result I can have food.
But people do not have wages and people go without food. Joanna Blythman in The Guardian on Thursday bought to readers attention ‘this pursuit of the hungry’ and how Paul and Kerry Baker a couple from Sunderland who became so desperate in their lives ended up stealing from the bins of their local Tesco. Tesco made an example with the couple by charging them both with thievery and sending them to court. Thankfully the district judge chucked the case out whilst also asking society how people like the Bakers were supposed to live and how the state had failed them.
We need solutions, we need to find ways of helping our local communities so we do not have people like the Bakers facing the problems of having to fend for themselves, communities need to understand that resource distribution is for them and not for wealthy corporations or government, the power is in our pockets even if their pockets are empty and that the right to eat isn’t just a human right but is a social right too. Yes, think about putting the UHT milk in the bin to help the poor sod who cant afford milk, think about also who you can speak to about making positive social changes in your area.
To see the flyer above go through my door and for me to supply tins of food and pasta has made me think, it has made me angry and it has made me realise the supply change of food is momentarily fucked. I need to be part of the solution, I can’t just sit there and fend for myself in my own backyard. I need to think compassionately about my local area and the mouths that need feeding. Self reliance is not just about me or you, it is about everybody.
My first move this morning was to volunteer with my local food bank in Birmingham, any other ideas will be greatly welcomed in the comments box.