EconomyHuman Rights

Hunger crisis plagues Britain

A new study has revealed that the number of hungry Britons incapable of feeding themselves increased by more than 20 percent this year compared to last year’s figures.

The study commissioned by FareShare found that the deteriorating economic crisis and changes to the benefit system have triggered a spike in the number of hungry Britons from 29,500 last year to 35,000 in 2011, The Guardian reported.

FareShare, which operates from 17 sites across the UK, redistributes waste food from major food manufacturers and supermarkets to social care charities.

The number of charities that have signed up to receive food from FareShare has also risen in the past 12 months, from 600 to 700. More than 40 percent of those charities are recording increases in demand for their feeding services of up to 50 percent, according to the report.

“People in our communities are going to bed hungry because they can’t afford to feed themselves,” said Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare.

“This is a huge problem and it’s right here, in our neighbourhoods, on our streets. This is outrageous enough even before you factor in the thousands of tonnes of good food thrown away each year. It’s illogical and frankly immoral that these problems coexist”, added Boswell.

It’s estimated that three million tonnes of food like this is being wasted in Britain every year, of which FareShare gets hold of about one percent.

“Demand for our food is going up far faster than we can source it,” Boswell said.

“As a charity we started out purely interested in liberating waste. We are an environmental charity that gets bloody angry about food being thrown away. However, we’re clear that it is the alleviation of poverty which now leads what we do”, noted the charity’s official.

Another charity, the Salisbury-based Trussell Trust has seen the number of people it is feeding rise from 41,000 to 61,500 during the past year.

It runs more than 100 food banks around the country, distributing emergency food parcels to people in dire need who have been referred to it by social care organisations and charities.

“We’re seeing a big increase in what you could call, for want of a better phrase, normal working people, those who have lost their jobs or seen their own businesses go under,” says Jeremy Ravn, manager of the food bank network.

More than one in five workers now earn less than a “living wage”, says the Resolution Foundation thinktank.

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