Right to Food campaign gains momentum

Unite supports #RightToFood campaign on national day of action to end food poverty once and for all

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Unite has thrown its full support behind the Right to Food campaign — an initiative set up last year by Fans Supporting Foodbanks and Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby Ian Byrne — which aims to make access to food a legal right for everyone in the UK.

The campaign to end food poverty once and for all has gained significant momentum since it was launched in November 2020 and has drawn support from all corners including councils, Unite and other trade unions, charities, footballer Marcus Rashford, and a growing number of cross-party MPs.

A petition to Parliament started by Fans Supporting Foodbanks national chair Dave Kelly has garnered more than 50,000 signatures while Byrne’s Early Day Motion tabled in Parliament in December was signed by 59 cross-party MPs.

In January, Liverpool became the first Right to Food city after the city council unanimously voted to in favour of calling on the government to include the right to food in its National Food Strategy, an independent review commissioned by government into the UK’s food system which is due to report next month.

Liverpool has since been followed by several other cities which have become Right to Food cities, including Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool Combined Authority, Rotherham, Totnes, Brighton and Hove, Haringey, St Helens, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Durham.

The latest figures from the Food Foundation estimates that an astonishing one in five adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland face food insecurity annually, while the Child Action Poverty Group estimates that one in three children were living in poverty before the pandemic even started.

Commenting, Labour MP Ian Byrne said, “It’s really worrying and extremely saddening that we’re in this position. So the only way to tackle this is through a change in legislation. That’s what we’re calling for. We can’t carry on like this.”

In March, the Right to Food campaign made its submission to the National Food Strategy including five key ‘asks’ which, if adopted by government, will “provide an achievable, tangible and legally binding route out of food poverty for millions of people in the UK”, Byrne noted.

The five ‘asks’ include universal free school meals; community kitchens; reasonable portions in benefits and wages; ensured food security and independent enforcement.

Enshrining a ‘Right to Food’ in law would mean the government would hold legal obligations on food poverty and could be held accountable for any violations.

Today (Monday 28) the Right to Food campaign is being ramped up another notch with a Right to Food day of action on social media. Campaigners are asking everyone to join in by downloading a Right to Food flyer from the tweet below.

Participants are asked to take a selfie with the flyer and post on social media, explaining why they are supporting the Right to Food campaign using the hashtag #RightToFood and tagging @IanByrneMP and @SFoodbanks.

By Hajera Blagg

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