As East Lothian Foodbank revealed that it has experienced a significant increase in demand for its service during lockdown, Iain Gray MSP is calling on local people to back plans for legislation to enshrine the Right to Food into law in Scotland.
Figures for the period March to June 2020 show that the foodbank fed 2762 local people, including 1110 children, a 48% increase on the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, national foodbank charity The Trussell Trust recently reported an 89% increase in need for emergency food parcels during April.
The dramatic surge in food insecurity has already led to food poverty groups joining forces to call for an end to Scotland’s increasing reliance on foodbanks.
In a letter sent last month to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, workers and volunteers from foodbanks, community food groups, and poverty organisations have outlined their concerns over the country’s reliance on charity amid a sharp increase in the number of people experiencing food insecurity.
Last month, Mr Gray’s colleague Elaine Smith MSP lodged a proposal in the Scottish Parliament for a Right to Food bill which would aim to tackle the growing problem of food poverty and insecurity.
Supporting the proposal, Iain Gray MSP said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought Scotland’s food system into sharp focus. Food insecurity and poverty has been experienced by record numbers of families in East Lothian and across Scotland over recent months.
“For some people this has been caused by losing their income suddenly and being left with too little to meet their basic needs. Others have experienced food insecurity because the normal methods by which they acquire their food have been disrupted, for example if they have been shielding.
“We all have a right to food, but while it is recognised internationally, it is a right so many people in Scotland are seeing go unfulfilled. This proposed bill is an opportunity to shape the approach that Scotland takes to food going forward.
“The outcome of this consultation will play a big role in helping shape the principles which guide the future of our food system, and I’m urging local groups and individuals concerned with food poverty to submit their views on the proposal.”
To find out more information, including how to respond to the consultation, please visit https://righttofoodscotland.wixsite.com/righttofood or www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/115201.aspx