Preston's plan for 'no child to go hungry', as city demands food rights law

Preston City Council has called for the right to food to be enshrined in law.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 4:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 4:28 pm

Councillors unanimously backed a plea for the principle to be incorporated into the ongoing national food strategy, the first independent review of the UK’s food system for 75 years.

At a meeting of the full council, the authority also pledged to develop a ‘No Child Should Go Hungry’ campaign in the city by working with other organisations to tackle “the root causes of food poverty”. The project will involve both targeted action to support those in need, along with early intervention measures designed to prevent families falling into difficulty in the first place.

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Preston councillors said tackling food poverty was a cross-party issue

Introducing a motion outlining the demand for a food rights law and the local plans to help Preston residents, Labour cabinet member for communities and social justice Nweeda Khan said that there were “historically high” rates of food poverty across the city.

“We are seeing a crisis of food poverty born out of political choices and systemic failings over the last four decades which have now reached a tipping point for so many in our communities.

“Enshrining the right to food into law would clarify government obligations on food poverty and would introduce legal avenues to hold government bodies accountable for violations.

“Food poverty and household food insecurity has a myriad of faces. We know it can affect children who lack free school meals during the school holidays [and] parents on low incomes going without food so that their children can eat,” Cllr Khan said.

Conservative councillor Daniel Duckworth called on all parties in the city to work together “to build a hunger-free future”.

“It is sad that in this day and age, in one of the richest nations in the world, that there is a need for foodbanks. This problem stretches [across] multiple governments of all colours.

“No-one should have to choose between heating and eating, keeping a roof over their heads and which bills to pay.

“When any one person goes hungry, our whole society is weaker. More people than ever, exacerbated by Covid-19, are facing extreme poverty,” said Cllr Duckworth, stressing the need for the council to continue to back local groups helping those experiencing food poverty.

The motion included a renewed commitment to supporting community food hubs, holiday markets and food-buying co-operatives.

Liberal Democrat member Phoenix Adair said that the issue of food insecurity had been thrown into focus by recent reports that some children had to “eat as much as they can on a Friday, because their parents struggle to feed them at the weekend and so they have to go without”.