From Andrew Forsey, National Director, Feeding Britain, London SW1, UK
SEPTEMBER 24 2020
Three decades stood between the rise of food banks in America and their creation in Britain. By contrast, the recent drivers of hunger, outlined by your correspondent Patti Waldmeir, have emerged simultaneously among the poorest individuals in both countries (“A new era of hunger has hit the US”, Notebook, September 22).
Feeding Britain has found that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, one in four adults on this side of the Atlantic has struggled to access food they can afford. A similar proportion of adults looking after children have eaten less during the pandemic so they can feed the children in their household.
Much of the hunger we, like Feeding America, are trying to meet has arisen among “newly vulnerable” families on the fringes of the labour market, whose earnings have either diminished or been lost entirely as a result of the pandemic. This is in addition to those households whose existing vulnerabilities were exacerbated by the pandemic. The 1.5m meals administered by our network since March have provided a lifeline for UK families in both groups.
While moves to shore up household incomes must be a prerequisite for anti-hunger strategies in western economies, we would also recommend the creation of “innovation funds” to support models of community self-help, like those with which we are experimenting, that offer affordable food and wraparound support to combat poverty and isolation.
Our experience suggests that such models can successfully prevent the daily struggles of the newly vulnerable descending into crises like those described by Ms Waldmeir.
National Director, Feeding Britain
London SW1, UK