Monday, March 25, 2019

‘Leftover’ food for ‘left behind’ people.

A letter to the Guardian from 58 academics and campaigners criticises the way corporations and some charities frame food poverty as a logistical problem of how to distribute surplus food to people in poverty rather than a social justice issue. The UK food bank movement has been warned it is in danger of being “captured” by big corporations and supermarket chains that promote high-profile partnerships with charities as effective ways of solving hunger and food waste. It calls the growth of charity food aid in developed countries such as the UK and the US “a sticking plaster on a gaping wound of systemic inequality” that undermines the humanity and dignity of its recipients.

“At the heart of the approach to tackling food poverty must be a guarantee of the human right to adequate food and nutrition: living wages, income security and a fit for purpose welfare system, not ‘leftover’ food for ‘left behind’ people.”

There is no evidence charity solves food insecurity, it says, adding: “However, food banking does benefit the reputations of Big Food and supermarket chains as good corporate citizens while distracting attention away from low wages paid to their workers.”

The Global Foodbanking Network (GFN), whose conference is being held this week in London, supports projects worldwide that redistribute to charities surplus and waste food donated by industry and supermarkets that would otherwise go to landfill or to feed farm animals. It says this model of food charity – which is known as food banking in the US – is both “green” and “a proven solution for nourishing communities”. The US-based organisation is predominantly funded by corporate donors including Pepsico, Unilever and Kellogg’s. The Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis, who is speaking at the conference, said food redistribution charities “play a crucial role in tackling global hunger and reducing food waste”.
The UK’s biggest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, said it had decided not to attend the GFN conference because it said organisation’s message and approach did not “align with our vision of a UK without poverty or hunger and its aim to create a future without food banks”.

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