Guest blog by Joe McCrohon.

Do you want to write to your MP about Hunger in Oxford or Oxfordshire?
Download a template letter here.

For the past few weeks, I have been volunteering with Good Food Oxford on the End Hunger project, as a research volunteer investigating food poverty in the six constituencies of Oxfordshire.

To understand the work I have been doing it is necessary to understand the nature of food poverty. Food poverty is primarily due to a wider situation of poverty; as the vast majority of people do not grow their own food, most people have to buy food. Food poverty is not a binary situation of having food or not having food, but rather is a spectrum: from cutting back on the types and/or quantities of food that people eat, to the complete inability to buy food. Whilst the less severe end of the spectrum may not seem problematic, research has shown that being in such a situation leads to an increased chance of malnutrition; and in children negatively impacts upon their education.

Good Food Oxford takes a rights-based approach to food, insisting that access to good food is a basic human right which we all should be able to exercise. We all have the right to enough food, no matter our circumstances. In our society, we all believe in compassion and fairness – and people being unable to put food on the table, for themselves or their children, simply isn’t right.

Food poverty is a systemic issue in which people are locked in poverty by a variety of circumstances that can be changed. So part of ending food poverty is creating the keys; in the form of improved public services, and crucially in-work wages and benefits that people can live on; thereby releasing the grip of poverty.

Currently the government does not collect statistics on food poverty. However, there are various indicators that demonstrate a degree of food poverty. For full details of the statistics that were collected, please have a look at my longer report: End Hunger Summary Report October 2019.

In summary, 4518 Oxford citizens are currently trapped in food poverty; 1624 of them are children. In total, 22,861 people in Oxford are currently experiencing or at risk of food poverty, which is 10% of Oxford’s population. 5,136 of them are children.

That’s why, as part of the End Hunger campaign, we are calling for:

  • A national government plan to End Hunger
  • The need to fix Universal Credit – no more five-week wait
  • An Oxfordshire Living Wage of £10.02 per hour­­

So GFO is encouraging people to write to their MP to demand national-level change, and has created a template letter which is available to download here.

The campaign is also calling on local people to do their bit to support organisations doing what they can to help people experiencing or at risk of hunger and food poverty.

Individuals are asked to:

  • Support their local food bank – ask them what they need
  • Support their local community café, garden or larder, holiday or breakfast club

To find local food services, you can use the map online: Food Services Map

This is even more important if food prices rise in relation to climate change and Brexit.

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