New research by the Independent Food Aid Network has supported what the Trussell Trust (the biggest food bank network in the UK) has been saying: food banks are having to give support to more and more people in the UK and the needs have been increasing over the last nine years. Professor Jon May and chair of Ifan announced: “There are now food banks in almost every community, from the East End of London to the Cotswolds. The spread of food banks maps growing problems of poverty across the UK, but also the growing drive among many thousands of people across the country to try and do something about those problems”.
The reasons why people are having to turn to Food Banks to provide their food are varied:
The Ifan survey revealed a wide variety of food-banks with some faith-based, others non-religious; some with strict rules on the amount of food given to individual clients, others with open-ended commitments to families in need; some requiring clients to have a voucher validated by outside agencies, others operating a self-referral system.
British government have repeatedly played down the rise of food banks, rejecting growing evidence that financial pressures on families caused by welfare cuts, benefit delays and low income have pushed a demand for emergency food. Recently, the prime minister, Theresa May, attempted to brush off claims that nurses had been forced to use food banks by saying there were “many complex reasons” why people use them. The graph above showed that there are different reasons why people use them but basically families in 2017 Britain are starving and need emergency food to survive.
The Trussell Trust is a 400 strong network of food banks in the UK and a case study in our GCSE Religious Studies.
It is a charity founded on Christian principles. They work with people of all faiths and none (just like Christian Aid), and are inspired by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 35 – 36. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Students will recognise this as coming from the Parable of the Sheep and Goats which we learn in our studies of evil and suffering, as well as Christian beliefs and teachings. In the parable Jesus returns to reward all those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, and cared for the sick, teaching Christians to care for those who are suffering. Jesus’ message here is that by ignoring a sick or hungry person, a Christian would be ignoring Jesus himself.
The Trussell Trust’s vision is to end hunger and poverty in the UK and their mission is to bring communities together to end hunger and poverty in the UK by providing compassionate, practical help with dignity whilst challenging injustice.