A new study is to examine the experiences of workers across the food sectors to highlight the impact of food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative has been launched by the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BFAWU), the largest independent trade union in the food sector in the British Isles. The research will ask respondents who work in various food sectors about the impact of the virus on their households’ access to food during the crisis – including whether they have had to sacrifice food for themselves to feed others in the household.
The project will highlight “the people who have given so much to feed the country themselves may be struggling to feed their own families,” as Ian Hodson, National President of BFAWU, says. It is part of the part of the BFAWU’s campaign to see a Right to Food enshrined in law.
Food poverty has become the subject of national attention with the continued rise of food banks and uncertainty over free school meals during lockdown being challenged by the likes of Marcus Rashford.
The campaign to see a Right to Food enshrined in law has grown too with Liverpool becoming the UK’s first Right to Food city last month. Work is being led in Westminster by Ian Byrne MP and in the Scottish Parliament through the Private Members’ bill lodged by Elaine Smith MSP.
Ten million people in the UK currently experience food insecurity. From 1st April to 30th September 2020, foodbanks in the Trussell Trust’s network saw a 47% increase in the number of emergency food parcels needed across the UK, when compared to the same period last year.
Commenting on the launch of the new research, Ian Hodson said: “Workers across the food industries have been the forgotten key workers of this crisis – working day and night to ensure there is enough food to feed the nation. But we know too many people in this country are not getting access to that food.
“The cause of the country’s food poverty scandal is not a lack of food to go round. Rather, it is that after the punishing years of austerity people still have to endure a lack of decent pay and affordable housing as well as a brutal welfare system. This is what has left too many people without the money to put food on the table.
“Shamefully, there are many food workers who are priced out of the very products they produce. It’s a disgrace that the workforce producing food is paid so little. Their value to society and the importance of their role must be better reflected in their pay.”
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