Wednesday 18 December 2013

Food-Banks: Shaming Our Nation

[Image description: ten bags of groceries]

A couple of weeks back I signed "Parliament: Debate UK hunger and rise in foodbank use" known as Jack's Petition (#jackspetition) after its creator Jack Monroe. The tally as I write stands at 142,688.

An hour ago I received the following email:
Today's the day!After 142,000 people signed our petition (142,000!) -- Parliament will debate why so many people in the UK are hungry and relying on foodbanks to feed their families this Christmas.
This debate is long overdue and it has been our sheer force of numbers that has made it happen, so thank you.
Hundreds of you have contacted your MPs to make sure they show up and stand up for hungry people in their constituencies -- people in work, out of work, living on their own, with children, without children, all struggling to put food on the table. I'll be in Parliament today to report back on which MPs turn up.
This debate is about finding out why so many people are hungry in one of the richest countries in the world. It is just the first step to tackling the issue but it is crucial. We need to understand the causes of hunger before we can address them.
Let's make sure everyone knows this debate is happening. Please send a tweet today using #foodbanks and #jackspetition. Tell people the reason you signed this petition. If you need inspiration of what to tweet, here are 20 facts about foodbanks in the UK. Pick one to tweet (or tweet all 20!):
Thank you for all you have done so far.
Jack Monroe
@MsJackMonroeP.S. If you are not on Twitter share these 20 facts about foodbanks with your friends on email and ask them to sign the petition at 

The notification arrived whilst I was out and about in my mobility-scooter. Co-incidently this morning is the only day my local food-bank, St Alban's Parish of Broadheath, Altrincham whose logo appears below, is open for receiving donations, so I was delivering my annual Christmas food package. I could not sit down in all good conscience to a gargantuan feast knowing others were hungry. By feeding others my scruples will not trouble me over Yuletide.

The helpers very kindly made me a cuppa as there is a biting Easterly blowing outside. Whilst sipping my tea and the volunteers awaited clients, we chatted about the current state of affairs in the country. The ladies recalled WWII and said they had known nothing like this back then in our wealthy area. Now there are four food-banks in our locality. Underneath the exterior of Haves are very many Have-Nots. One OAP volunteer spoke of her shock at encountering such poverty, the worst she had seen in her considerable life-span.

Last week it was in the news that more than a million pensioners are in food-poverty. In previous weeks we have heard of millions of children going hungry and many now being fed by teachers out of their own pockets. Today in the news are the details of the human rights breaches of the homeless including access to food. The United Kingdom is a full signatory to the United Nations various conventions. According to today's Guardian the ConDem co-alition has turned down emergency food aid from Europe. The Conservative Party of the last few decades has proven itself to be unconcerned and completely dégagé in its responses towards poverty. The Liberal Democrats used to boast about their social justice credentials. Well that halo has slipped, tarnished and rusted away. Alas for once great Britain, the other two main parties, Labour and UKIP are as doggedly neo-liberal and corporatist. So no change in the future however anyone decides to vote.

To paraphrase the Bard, something is distinctly rotten in the state of England!

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