The work of several food banks in Nottingham will now be officially supported by the city council, following a vote last night (Monday, September 9)
Use of food banks has risen sharply since 2010, with demand this year higher than ever before, the city council has said.
Foodbank charity the Trussell Trust – the largest in the UK – distributed 10,723 food parcels to children and 15,955 adults in Nottingham last year.
However many more food parcels will have been handed out, because that figure does not include independent food banks.
Now, the Labour-run city council has said it will work directly with food banks to make sure they are sustainable and roll-out more community services at existing food banks.
They say foodbanks have become ‘normalised’ since austerity started in 2010, and that many families were going hungry over the summer holidays, primarily due to in-work poverty and changes to the benefit system, including universal credit.
A motion was brought to the full council meeting by Labour councillor Georgia Power, who represents Bestwood.
She said: “It’s a national shame that in 2019 in the 5th richest economy in the world we have to stand as councillors in Nottingham and discuss food poverty.
“But let’s be clear, this is not just a Nottingham issue, this is a national scandal.
“I speak to teachers, social workers and family support workers in Nottingham and in Bestwood, who say they are reliant on donations, often noticing pupils who were missing meals at home.
“Imagine then some of the desperate situations some of our families experience during school holidays, when there are no free school meals or the breakfast clubs that are provided by many of our schools.
“I was pleased to support the trialling of community surgeries at Bestwood at their weekly Tuesday lunches. These surgeries bring together a range of councillors, services and agencies to support local residents.
“Because of these I am committing in this motion that we will support the roll out of this initiative to more food banks and social eating schemes across the city where they are wanted and needed.”
The Labour councillor went on to say the council would make available a database of similar services on its website.
Councillor Nick Raine represents the Basford ward for Labour, and said: “My children are growing up in a country where it is now usual to see food banks, where it is now usual to see homelessness where it’s usual to see drug addiction, and I have to explain to my daughter why we live in a country like this.
“This is not how, even in the worst of it most of us were brought up. This is regressive. This is a society with completely wrong priorities.”
The motion was passed last night. All councillors voted in favour, apart from the two Conservative councillors, who abstained.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said:
“The reasons for people using food banks are complex.
“Universal Credit is a force for good, with 2.2 million people now being supported by the benefit. It gives people financial help if they’re unemployed, low-paid or unable to work. People can get their first payment on day one of their claim as an advance and we continue to make improvements.”