Labour has today called on the government to take urgent action as new figures from the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reveal the shocking impact of the coronavirus crisis on food poverty.
Its findings show that the number of food parcels issued across 147 of its foodbanks increased by an average of almost 60% between 20 February and 20 March1. A report from the Food Foundation published in early April revealed that 1.5 million people had gone a whole day without eating since the start of the lockdown.2
Teachers and parents have also highlighted major problems with the free school meals voucher programme.
Delays to releasing the vouchers have forced some schools to fund eligible families themselves, while the list of supermarkets accepting the vouchers omits local convenience stores and the Co-op3, more likely to be relied on by poorer families.
Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, commenting on new statistics about food poverty, said:
“There is more than enough food in our supply chains to make sure that everyone has enough to eat. This is now not a crisis of food supply, it’s a crisis of poverty. People simply do not have enough money to buy the food they need.
“The government urgently needs to expand which shops are able to accept free school meal vouchers to include those supermarkets most present in our poorest communities. Many people only have access to their local convenience store or a more discount supermarket.
“It’s vital that these shops are included in the Free School Meals voucher scheme, so our most vulnerable children can get the food they need.”