While the fuel bills are taking the headlines, the 20 year high in food bills and food poverty requires immediate action, argues the Green Party’s Ken Huggins.
Energy prices have risen dramatically recently, but food prices have also been rising and are now at a 20-year high. As with energy costs, this disproportionately affects the households whose income falls below their needs.
For us here in the sixth richest nation in the world it is a national disgrace that food poverty means there are over 2,600 food banks operating across the UK, with almost six million adults and two million children struggling to get enough to eat.
This is why the Green Party is calling for a Universal Basic Income, so that citizens have a guaranteed income to support their essential needs. The relentless rise in the use of food banks in the UK began long
before the Covid pandemic. It is 22 years since the Russell Trust opened its first food bank in their home town of Salisbury, and it now supports over 1200 food banks across the UK. In North Dorset we have food banks in Sherborne and Blandford and the Vale Pantry community food store in Sturminster Newton. No
doubt there are others.
While energy is essential for our society, food is essential for our survival. For good health we need good food, and we need to grow more of it ourselves. Here in the UK we rely on imports for a staggering 45% of
our food overall, including 84% of our fruit. This means we are extremely vulnerable to external events such as climate change and conflict. Food produced sustainably and consumed locally helps protect us from global shocks.
So we have to change what we eat, what we grow, how we grow it … and reduce the appalling wastage. One-third of food production is never eaten! Farmers are THE key workers, and we must support them to
transition to more sustainable agriculture.