Friday, February 27, 2015

Growing a Food Justice Movement in Scotland

Important conference event in Glasgow tomorrow - sadly, I can't be there personally - but, in partnership with the 'Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland' and 'The Centre for Human Ecology' ...

... Faith in Community Scotland is hosting a conference on responses to food poverty in Scotland; and how we can potentially move beyond emergency food aid to just and sustainable food systems.

You can find some more details on the conference here; including a flyer for the event here.

To coincide with the conference, myself and my Glasgow opposite-number - Gordon Matheson - have agreed a joint statement/commitment on food poverty, which I'll copy below:

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Joint Statement on Food Poverty
by the Leaders of Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils

Glasgow and Edinburgh are committed to eradicating poverty in our cities in all its forms.

Today, most of those living in poverty are in employment, a consequence of reduced wages and a proliferation of exploitative zero hours contracts. Many are unable to find work at all. Changes to the benefit system, including an increased use of sanctions, delays in processing and low benefit levels are fundamental causes of growing poverty.
One consequence of this is food poverty. The combination of low paid or insufficient work, benefit cuts, rising food and fuel costs and the ‘Poverty Premium’ -  which sees the poorest in our communities pay more for everyday necessities such as food, fuel and credit – has rendered tens of thousands unable to eat properly.

The recent report “Food, Fuel and Finance: tackling the poverty premium”, made a series of recommendations for action at city, Scottish and UK levels and we endorse its findings. Furthermore, we welcome the work of the Glasgow-based Poverty Leadership Panel and reaffirm our commitment to delivering its objectives.
Many people have given food and time to food banks.  This generosity reflects the good will and compassion our cities are famous for. However, food banks are a crisis response to an immediate problem, not a sustainable solution to food poverty.  In particular the expansion of the food bank system using ‘waste’ food from the supermarket system, proposed by a recent All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom, is deeply flawed.

Experience elsewhere has shown that when food banks become too well established they undermine the fundamental rights enshrined in our welfare system. If we become too reliant upon them we risk a return to charity welfare – this must not happen.
Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have thriving community food sectors, including food cooperatives, community shops, healthy eating groups and projects, growing projects and community gardens. Both cities are part of the Sustainable Food Cities network, with Edible Edinburgh and the Glasgow Food Policy Partnership working across sectors in their respective cities. We believe that community food sectors have a role to play in tackling food poverty and making access to nutritious, sustainable food a reality for all.

We pledge to work with all relevant stakeholders – and crucially, this includes those people with first hand experience of poverty -  to ensure that all citizens have access to sustainable, nutritious food as a matter of course, not as a result of charity.

We believe:
·         Access to food is a basic human right.
·         Insufficient food is a symptom of poverty.
·         Food banks are a crisis response and will not solve the problem of food poverty.
·         Food waste is not an effective or socially just solution to food poverty.

We will:
·         Continue to work alongside those with lived experience of poverty to identify solutions.
·         Encourage the Scottish and UK governments to work in partnership with local government, communities and the third sector to tackle food poverty and develop a plan to tackle its causes.
·         Endorse the recommendations of the Church Action on Poverty report Food, Fuel, Finance and the findings of Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel.



Councillor Gordon Matheson CBE                 Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of Glasgow City Council                      Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

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9 comments:

Pete Ritchie said...

Nourish Scotland welcomes this joint statement from Scotland's two largest cities and will support them in their efforts to tackle food poverty

Andrew said...

Pete

Many thanks for your comment ... and support for our efforts, in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Andrew

Lindsay Boswell said...

FareShare completely agrees that food waste is not the solution to hunger and thank you for the leadership being shown in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. FareShare redistributes in date, highly nutritious and great quality surplus food from the food industry and we provide it to hundreds of Scottish charities that are otherwise going out and buying similar products. This saves each charity on average £13,000 per year enabling them to reinvest in their services. We are right beside you in helping tackle hunger, its causes and its damage. Keep up the good work!

Andrew said...

Lindsay

Many thanks for the comment - and for your constructive feedback ... it's much appreciated.

Andrew

bardlr said...

Just having enough food calories is obviously vital. But retaining dignity and control over the family's variety and quality of food is also important. Supporting people to grow their own fruit and vegetables by providing land for allotments and training for growing skills is the most sustainable way of achieving food security in an austerity society. The Victorians recognised this and introduced urban allotments. Now we are back with Victorian Values we should ensure everyone who can benefit has access to an allotment plot.

PBrayne said...

Please see "Peter's Produce" for the quantity of food which can be grown on an individual Edinburgh allotment plot by one person - just short of 300 kg a year. The document is on www.sags.org.uk website.

Andrew said...

bardlr

Thanks for your comment - my family has an Allotment-plot here in Edinburgh; so I do recognise the point you're making!

Andrew

Andrew said...

PBrayne

Many thanks ofr the link - I'll have a look.

Andrew

mark lawrence said...

This is absolutely dear. I am glad that you are working in order to improve things which many people don’t even bother about. Anyways, you can also take help of a local event management team to arrange things in better and professional manner.