A new partner-ship project seeks to evolve the response to food poverty in Scotland from foodbanks to tackling the underlying causes.
The £1 million three-year project, A Menu for Change: Cash, Rights, Food, was announced earlier this month by Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish and The Poverty Alliance and will be formally launched in 2017.
It will seek to reduce the need for, and reliance on, emergency food aid
It will seek to reduce the need for, and reliance on, emergency food aid.
The project will pilot alternative services and approaches to reduce the number of people who have no option but to turn to foodbanks. Central to this approach will be enhancing access to cash, including strengthening links to the Scottish Welfare Fund.
As well as cash, the project will promote alternative, more dignified ways of supporting those facing hunger, such as access to healthy food through community cafes or food co-operatives.
Hunger has grown in Scotland with the number of emergency food packages handed out by the Trussell Trust increasing by more than 900 per cent in three years up to 2015/16. From April 2015 to March 31, 2016, 133,726 people were given three days of emergency food.
However, the full scale of food insecurity is significantly higher with figures from other emergency food aid providers not collected nationally and a lack of monitoring of those adopting coping strategies like skipping meals.
Oxfam responds to food crises globally but the hunger we see in communities across Scotland isn’t created by a lack of food, it is caused by poverty.
People across Scotland have responded incredibly, by volunteering at a foodbank or donating cash and food.
However, the truth is that foodbanks should not need to exist – everyone should have enough money to afford food and other essentials.
We know ending hunger in Scotland by ensuring everyone has enough money for food, is a huge challenge.
However, by harnessing our collective expertise and working with those responding in communities, while ensuring people at risk are at the heart of designing solutions, we believe we can minimise the need for emergency food aid.
Maureen McGinn, chair of The Big Lottery Fund Scotland, was only too happy to support the project.
All four project partners were members of the Scottish Government’s independent working group on food poverty.
The project will build on the findings in the group’s report, Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland, which called for dignity and rights to be at the heart of the response to food insecurity.
Oxfam is a global movement of millions of people who share the belief that, in a world rich in resources, poverty is not inevitable. According to the charity, extreme poverty has been halved in just 15 years and in 15 more years it can end for good. To spread that change and make it last, political solutions and projects like A Menu for Change are also needed to tackle the root causes of poverty and create societies where empowered individuals can thrive.
Visit www.oxfam.org.uk/scotland for more information.