Zero hunger Lewisham?

Tony Nickson tracks the progress of work to highlight the issue of food poverty in Lewisham

Last summer I took the issue of food poverty to Lewisham’s Health and Wellbeing Board, and presented Putting Food on the Table – research by Goldsmiths, University of London, into the local experience of food bank providers and users. At the same meeting Danny Ruta, Director of Public Health presented a paper on food poverty and insecurity in the borough.

Around the same time, Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust had produced a hard-hitting report on poverty in Britain – Below the Breadline. Its authors were uncompromising in naming this a scandal, saying, ‘The explosion of food poverty and the use of food banks is a national disgrace, and undermines the UK’s commitment to ensuring that all its citizens have access to food– one of the most basic of all human rights.’

By December, the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom had published its report – Feeding Britain, a detailed examination of the causes of food poverty and insecurity in the country which made a series of recommendations to Government.

Last year we called for action locally, to bring together people in the community to get to grips with what is happening in Lewisham and find solutions. The Lewisham Food Summit will take place on Tuesday 7 July 2015. This is a statement of commitment that we will work together – voluntary sector organisations, public sector departments and local citizens - to grapple with this issue and find some answers.

There will be hard questions to ask. All the reports cited have shown that failures in the welfare system have been a key contributor to destitution – e.g. from Feeding Britain:  'The Inquiry believes that benefit delays have been a key reason as to why individuals have turned to food banks over the last ten years' (p35).

The Lewisham Food Summit will look at the economic drivers of food poverty, along with issues of access to healthy food, building resilience in local communities and eliminating waste in the food supply system. We want to explore positive local solutions and will learn from the Sustainable Food Cities approach. We want to learn from and build on the work that local activists are already doing.

The Lewisham Food Summit will be a start. If you would like to be involved, get in touch with me by email.


Photo: Flickr - BCC News