Luciana Berger MP Uncovers Britain's Hidden Food Poverty
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
London, UK – March 5, 2015 – Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Public Health and Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree has been shortlisted from over 100 candidates this year for the 3rd Annual Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award. The award recognises outstanding politicians and diplomats who are representing civilian interests at the highest level in areas of policy, social and business overall. Ms Berger is nominated for her awareness campaign on Britain’s hidden food poverty crisis.
Describing the food poverty crisis as a ‘national scandal’, Ms Berger was the first MP to secure a parliamentary debate on food banks and had since brought the issue back to parliament more than 16 times. Ms Berger was shocked and appalled to see the growing number of people within her constituency and across the United Kingdom – one of the richest countries in the world, relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families. Almost one in ten people in the UK have skipped meals because of poverty, many go without food to feed their families, children turn up hungry at school because they have nothing to eat at home, and several councillors have taken it upon themselves to hand out food from the back of their cars.
With the rise in unemployment and zero hour contracts, the number of users accessing food banks has gone up from 2010. In 2009 26,000 people in total relied on food aid. In 2012, food charity FareShare helped to feed 36,500 people every day with the generosity of schools and individuals donating non-perishable items. Between April 2013 and March 2014 Central Liverpool Foodbank fed 10,478 people which went up from 2,126 people between April 2011 and March 2012, distributing more than 100,000kgs of food in the process. Food poverty exists because of low wages, high costs of heating and electricity, and delays in receiving social security. In 2011, the average family’s shopping bill rose by £233 with parents working two jobs unable to cover the cost of food. Accesses to food banks are done so via professional referrals. As an MP Ms Berger is entitled to distribute food vouchers but discovered her constituents were resistant to receiving help due to embarrassment.
To show the real story of Britain’s food poverty scandal, Ms Berger produced and directed a short film called “Breadline Britain” which was premiered at the Food for Real Film Festival in Liverpool in October 2012. The video has had close to 6,000 views on YouTube and highlights how a great proportion of food bank users are in work. While she has been on a mission to raise awareness of hidden food poverty, Ms Berger is equally determined to ensure that food banks are not normalised in society. The Labour Party is currently working on the Food 2030 Strategy to combat the rise of food banks and malnutrition and is encouraging the Department of Work and Pension to review the system of work, wages and security so that food banks don’t have to exist on such an enormous scale.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat, said: “All too often, we hear stories of our governments not representing our needs but Grassroot Diplomat looks upon selfless individuals who work tirelessly for their communities. The award seeks to create a culture of positive role models within our governments which encourages others in power to follow suit.”
Ms Berger notes, “We must do everything to counter the normalisation of food banks in our communities. Their proliferation is a mark of shame on this country.”
Join Luciana Berger and other government nominees for the gala dinner at The May Fair Hotel, London on Thursday 5th March 2015. For ticket information please visit: http://www.grassrootdiplomat.org/book-tickets or call 07511 816689.
Further details about the awards can be found on: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/annual-awards
About Grassroot Diplomat
Grassroot Diplomat is a non-profit diplomatic consultancy with the mission to facilitate trust and better communication between governments and civil society. As an independent agency, Grassroot Diplomat shows no allegiance to a solitary government but will act in the interest of the people, no matter where they are or what state their country is in. We do this by developing, strengthening, and facilitating relationships between governments and civil society stakeholders on a project-by-project basis.
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