Government Food Strategy slammed as “wholly inadequate” by campaigners warning of a “national food emergency”

The Food and Work Network – a coalition of academics, public health professionals, trade unionists and community activists based at Birkbeck College, University of London – today slammed as “wholly inadequate” the Government’s Food Strategy,  arguing that “it’s time to declare a National Food Emergency” to reflect the gravity of the situation.

The Network has been convened at the initiative of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, whose members reported in a recent survey* that they are struggling to afford some of the very products they work to produce.

BFAWU General Secretary Sarah Woolley today warned: “This White Paper won’t stop people going hungry.   We are clear that Britain is now currently experiencing a National Food Emergency. As things stand millions of people in the UK are today feeling insecure about food. Inflation is the highest it’s been in 40 years, with food prices, alongside energy costs, at record levels. Millions of people, including millions of children, are unable to meet their basic needs. Destitution is on the rise and reliance on food banks is normalised.

It’s time for politicians at all levels to deliver a plan to help feed people and ensure that their basic needs are met.  To develop this plan a National Food Emergency Summit should be urgently organised”.

The Food and Work Network’s Coordinator, Professor Alex Colas (Birkbeck College, University of London), commented:

“This situation is not just caused by inflationary “cost of living” pressures but is the result of a broader crisis in incomes and earnings owing to endemic low pay, casualisation of work and a punitive welfare system.

What is largely absent from the white paper, as so often missing in considerations around food security, is the central role of work – both paid and unpaid, as well as its absence – in conditioning what and how the nation eats. You can’t seriously tackle the current food crisis without understanding the interplay between working patterns, pay, terms and conditions, and wider issues of care, transport, housing, and leisure time in determining food security across the country. Unless these issues are addressed seriously, people will continue to go hungry”.