This is the question being posed by the new ‘End Hunger UK’ campaign being launched by a coalition of 13 national charities today, including Church Action on Poverty, Trussell Trust, Fareshare, Magic Breakfast and others who are working to tackle food poverty across the UK.
On World Food Day (16 October), we are asking everyone to think about poverty at home as well as abroad. Recent data from the United Nations suggests that more than 8 million people here in the UK struggle to put enough food on the table.
In 2015 Pope Francis noted that “the world possesses the food, the knowledge, the capacity and the skills not only to confront the challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition but to end hunger.” Therefore, what we need “is the requisite global public will to embrace the urgency of addressing the right to food for all of humanity.”
Foodbanks, faith groups and a huge range of community food projects mobilise a network of thousands of volunteers across the UK. We're passionate about solving this issue, but we know that voluntary action alone isn't enough. We need long term solutions to hunger and poverty.
This isn’t an issue only experienced by a few. Working parents miss meals so that their kids can eat and vulnerable people rely on the support of charities on a daily basis to get a meal. With just over a month to go before Mrs May’s first Autumn Statement as Prime Minister, we hope to see real action to meet the needs of people facing these challenges.
That’s why the UK’s leading charities working with people affected by hunger have come together to call for an urgent, national ‘Big Conversation’ about what it will take to end hunger in the UK, and what role government and others need to play to make this possible.
So what would it take to end hunger in the UK?
What will it take to realise a vision is of a Britain in which everyone has access to good food and no one need go to bed hungry?
What will it take to ensure that children are able to live free from the damaging impacts of hunger on their health, attainment and opportunity?
What will it take to enable Families to be able to afford good food on a regular basis through an appropriate combination of work and benefits?
How can we return to a situation in which no one needs to go hungry, because the welfare safety net provides us all with the protection we need in time of crisis?
And how can we move from meeting immediate needs to campaigning to change the systems that create these needs, towards food justice, in which the human right to food and health is combined with sustainable food production, education and employment?
In 2015, Oxfam commissioned an opinion poll to find out the British public’s view of food poverty, with some encouraging results: Almost three quarters of the population agree that “there is something fundamental wrong in our society if people have to use food banks in the UK” and six in ten agree that “it is possible to reduce the amount that people use foodbanks in this country.” More surprisingly, one in six – if asked - would be ‘very likely’ to sign a petition or write to their MP or government representative to influence them to tackle the issue of people needing to use food banks.
So what if just a fraction if this vast army of people involved in running foodbanks, breakfast clubs, community cafes, cooking classes, community allotments put their energy behind a campaign to tackle the root causes of food poverty and hunger in the UK?
Only last year the UK Government signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of “ending hunger and ensuring access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by 2030.”
The good news is that this applies equally to tackling food poverty and hunger in the UK and globally. Our task is now to hold the new Prime Minister to delivering on this goal.
That’s why we’re asking politicians, as well as anyone who donates to a food bank, volunteers or works at a local community project or who simply cares about tackling hunger to take part in the End Hunger UK Big Conversation about what it will take to end hunger in the UK and what government needs to do to make this a reality, between now and next March.
Find out how you can join the End Hunger UK Big Conversation at www.endhungeruk.org.