Government should use EU food bank fund urgently

imagesCASN3YD2It’s shocking to hear that nearly one million people have needed food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust over the last year. In the UK, one of the most developed countries in the world, too many people are simply not able to feed their families. With the cost of living going up, wages going down, and more people on zero hour and other precarious contracts, it’s no wonder that people are struggling to keep their homes warm and put food on the table.

Across Europe millions of people are struggling to afford food. Those without enough money to buy adequate nutritious food have to rely on cheap, processed food, if they can afford anything at all. In 2009 there were 43 million people across Europe in food poverty, and we know it is a worsening problem in the wake of the financial crisis. We have seen aid agencies working on the streets of Athens, and food banks spring up across the UK and elsewhere.

So we need action at European level. I have asked the European Commission to produce new data on the scale of the problem, and to look at more long term options to ensure everyone has access to nutritious food. But in this time of crisis we need emergency measures. This February MEPs voted overwhelmingly for a new Fund for the Most Deprived; £2.5 billion to help with the costs of running food banks. Shockingly, Tory MEPs were in the very small minority voting against these measures, and the UK government has already decided not to use this money to help fund food banks.

Tens of thousands of children in our country are going hungry, and we have a government that prioritises a tax cut for millionaires, and refuses to use EU money to help struggling families. It is just not acceptable.

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