Food Prices and Food Poverty
Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day]
Mary Creagh (Wakefield, Labour)
I am very sorry to hear that my home city of Coventry has 35,000 children living in poverty. I am sure the number was similar when I was growing up there in the 1970s and 1980s and I am only sorry that much of the good work we did in government is falling away and poverty is increasing.
FareShare, which operates nationwide and works to redistribute aid from the food industry to charities, says demand is growing faster than supply. I pay tribute to both Sainsbury’s and Brakes, which recycle their in-date surplus to FareShare. It is important that the food is in-date so that there is no risk associated with that food, which includes fresh vegetables and, in particular, meat. Supermarkets could be doing much more to recycle food waste to hungry people. FareShare estimates it gets 1% of supermarket food waste, which prompts the question of where the other 99% is going. More of it should be recycled to hungry children in this country, which is one of the richest on earth. We can learn from food businesses such as Pret A Manger, which delivers surplus sandwiches around its London stores in the evening. We recall with horror the Tory proposals from Westminster council last year, when it wanted to make food distribution illegal. I pay tribute to all those who fought that proposal and protected people’s basic human right to a square meal even in the city of Westminster.
Gareth said that food is at the heart of everything his organisation does, but as my hon. Friend Mrs Moon said, charities are tackling a complex web of abuse, abandonment by the breadwinner, debt, unemployment, non-payment of benefits and other equally serious issues such as house fires, which she mentioned.