Labour MSP urges colleagues to abolish food poverty in 2022

SCOTTISH ministers have been urged to make 2022 the year they solve food insecurity across the country.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has appealed to coleagues across Holyrood to back her Right to Food Bill, which would enshrine in law the ability of Scots to access food, regardless of how much money they have.

According to the Trussel Trust charity, which operates a network of foodbanks all across the UK, some 84,555 food parcels were delivered to Scots between April and September this year.

The number of people relying on foodbanks has also risen as a result of the £20 cut to Universal Credit implemented by the UK Government, campaigners say.

In August, the Food Foundation reported that 10.3 per cent of Scots were experiencing food insecurity.

READ MORE: ‘Scotland’s shame’ as missed government targets ‘will leave’ 210,000 children in poverty

Research published in April by the University of the West of Scotland also highlighted that the pandemic had exacerbated food poverty, with foodbanks and other support systems unable to cope with the increase in demand combined with operating restrictions.

Ms Grant, Scottish Labour’s chief whip, has also challenged the Scottish Government to do more to tackle food insecurity, and urged ministers to support her bill.

She said: “There is no reason at all why anyone should be going hungry in a wealthy nation like Scotland.

“The evidence is clear – thousands of Scots are in food poverty and many more are being put at risk due to Tory cuts.

“We simply cannot stand back and allow this situation to continue.”

Ms Grant added that the “political will” to end food poverty in Scotland was essential to tackling the issue, saying: “If we have the political will we can end food poverty in Scotland by enshrining it as a human right in Scots Law.

“This will send a powerful message to the country that we are serious about tackling the scourge of food poverty and force us into action.

“Let’s make this a reality.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our draft national action plan on ending the need for food banks as a primary response further reiterates the Scottish Government’s human rights approach to tackling food insecurity.

“We prioritise action to prevent poverty and promote cash-first responses to hardship so that people have sufficient income to access food that meets their needs and preferences.

“There are early indications that this approach making a difference, with the Trussell Trust reporting a marked reduction in the number of emergency food bank parcels in Scotland between April-September 2021 compared to 2019.

“In October, we announced a £41m Winter Support Fund for low income households to help people struggling financially this winter.

“The Fund includes £25m funding to local authorities which they can use flexibly to respond to emerging local need, with a strong emphasis on cash-first responses.”

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