Political support for the Right to Food leaps forward

The Labour Party has joined the LibDem Party, the Co-operative Party, the Green Party and the Scottish Government in committing to a Right to Food in UK law.

Photo credit: Chris Young

Photo credit: Chris Young

The Labour Party has today committed to halving the need for food banks within a year of coming into office, ending the need for emergency food aid within three years and formally recognising everyone’s Right to Food under a new Fair Food Act.

This follows the Liberal Democrat party’s announcement on 14 September that if elected, they would “enshrine a legal Right to Food in law so nobody goes hungry” as part of their Fairer Share for All approach; the Co-operative Party's commitment to supporting the Right to Food as part of its Food Justice campaign; and also the well-established commitment of the Green Party, and the Scottish Government and Scottish First Minister to introducing the Right to Food as part of Scotland’s Good Food Nation Bill.

Imogen Richmond-Bishop, Coordinator of the Right to Food campaign, run by the Sustain food and farming alliance, said:

“It is welcome news that the Labour Party has recognised that food is a basic human right. Far too many families and vulnerable people have fallen into food crisis over recent years, lacking the money to be able to feed themselves well and with dignity. It doesn’t have to be this way. A joined-up approach to benefits, wages, job security, school food provision and controlling everyday household costs could bring to an end the scandal of rising emergency food bank use. This could help improve the lives, health and well-being of millions of our fellow citizens.”

“Decades after ratifying international treaties on securing everyone’s Right to Food it is high time that the UK brought this fundamental right home into domestic legislation, protecting everyone, but in particular some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is wonderful to see cross-party political support for this approach leaping forward. The next important step would be for the Right to Food to be integrated into the Government’s National Food Strategy, currently in development.”

Around 8.4 million people in the UK currently struggle to get enough to eat, whether because of low household income, debt, disability or personal crisis. The huge growth in charitable food banks over recent years illustrates that many people live precariously on the edge of going hungry, or are stuck in long-term food poverty.

Other fundamental challenges – such as climate change, loss of soil, struggling farmers or unhealthy food that causes new patterns of disease – also undermine the long-term reliability of our nation’s food supply.

The Sustain alliance is calling for all political parties and for the UK Government – at national and local level – to commit to taking progressive steps towards the eradication of hunger and food poverty, and towards the development of fair and balanced system for sustainable farming and fishing that works for both food producers and consumers alike.

Adopting the Right to Food into UK law would allocate legal responsibilities to ministers and public-sector bodies to take action to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food, or the means to obtain it; set out expectations for how the Right to Food can be realised; establish ways to monitor progress, stimulate new initiatives and hold decision-makers to account; and trigger the availability of adequate resources to support a positive, solutions-focused programme of change.

Read the Labour Party's press release from 23 September 2019 and commitments here: https://labour.org.uk/press/right-food-labour-will-halve-food-bank-usage-within-year/

Policy-makers from all political parties and the Government have recently engaged with the Right to Food concept through extensive campaign and advocacy activities. These have been led, for example, by:

  • The Sustain alliance and Nourish Scotland, working in partnership with Just Fair and the Institute for Health and Society at the University of Newcastle, and many colleague organisations.
  • The recent Children’s Future Fund Inquiry coordinated by the Food Foundation, which saw young people calling for a Children’s Right to Food Charter, to end children’s food insecurity for good.
  • A grassroots Labour Hunger Campaign also launched in in 2019, calling for a national Food Poverty Action Plan, stating that “Everyone has the right to access good-quality food, regardless of income.”
  • The Feeding Britain campaign and the related All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, calling for systematic action on food poverty, including national policy reform.

 

In addition, growing concerns and evidence on the impact of welfare benefit changes, low-income and food insecurity has been voiced to policy-makers by many organisaitons, including the Trussell Trust, the Independent Food Aid Network, the End Hunger UK partnership campaign, the UK Food Poverty Alliance and London Child Poverty Alliance; and A Menu for Change.


23/09/2019
Right to Food

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Right to Food: Everyone has the right to enjoy safe, nutritious and sustainable food. This project advocates the realisation of the Right to Food in UK law.

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