Greater Manchester has become the first city region to support a campaign which calls for the ‘Right to Food’ to become a legal requirement.
The ‘Right to Food’ campaign, launched by Fans Supporting Foodbanks, is calling for a change in the law to make access to food a legal right for all in the UK.
This would make the government legally responsible to help people suffering from food poverty.
Alex Timperley, of MCFC Fans Foodbank Support, said: “We’re proud to live in a place which has said no to child poverty, no to skipping meals, no to the vulnerable elderly having to choose between heating and eating.
“A Right to Food is only one part of what must be a wider movement to end poverty, but it is a big step which will go a long way to ensuring people can live their lives with dignity.”
Fans Supporting Foodbanks has launched a petition for The Right to Food campaign attracting more than 41,000 signatures.
It is estimated more than 10m people in the UK are living in food poverty, with ethnic minorities, the disabled and older people the worst affected by this.
Recent analysis shows that an additional 4,500 children across Greater Manchester have crossed a poverty threshold and have become eligible for free school meals since the pandemic began.
Data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) also shows the number of households who receive Universal Credit in the city-region has increased to 252,609, compared to 149,638 in February 2020 – a 69% increase.
These startling figures are viewed as early warning signs the social impact of Covid-19 is beginning to have an effect and has not yet shown its full extent.
A letter, co-written by Greater Manchester Leaders, will be sent to the National Food Strategy Lead calling for the 10m people currently living in food poverty to be at the heart of the strategy and urging for ‘Right to Food’ to become enshrined in legislation.
Although not a solution to poverty on its own, legislation could result in wider measures to improve the quality of people’s lives across the city-region.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has also highlighted the plight facing hungry families and successfully campaigned for the government to provide free school meals to eligible children outside of school term time, with the ‘Right to Food’ campaign building on what he has achieved to have this now enshrined into law.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has only magnified the stark and existing inequalities across the country.
“People struggling to self-isolate and feed their families at the same time as well as the growing queues of people accessing foodbanks over the last year are examples of this, and just shouldn’t be acceptable in 2021.
“We’re committed to recognising the Right to Food as an essential human right, and back Fans Supporting Foodbanks call for it to be enshrined in national legislation.”
MCFC Fans Foodbank Support believes the Right to Food law will be a massive step in tackling the food poverty epidemic across the country.
Mr Timperley added: “Enshrining a Right to Food into law will be transformative.
“There is a food poverty epidemic on the streets of towns and cities across the country, no more so than in Greater Manchester.
“The ‘Right to Food’ is in-keeping with GMCA’s approach in recognising there should be the right to education, health care, housing and other essential human rights for all in the city-region.
“GMCA has been committed to tackling food poverty and in October 2020 launched the ‘No Child Should Go Hungry’ initiative.
“We hope that other cities, councils and regions will follow the lead of Greater Manchester.”