Yesterday in Parliament I raised the challenges facing food banks across the Kingdom during a Member’s debate. Having attended the launch of the food bank in Kirkcaldy I have seen first hand the demand for these services and the vital role they play in helping those that need it most.
Recent reports that the food bank in Glenrothes is running low on food as it struggles to keep up with demand highlights how important these services are for the Kingdom. Those that have taken the time to help, from volunteering in the banks or donating food whilst they do their weekly shop, deserve our thanks. Without them the situation throughout Fife would be a lot worse.
My full speech can be found on the Scottish Government website.
According to the Trussell Trust, who operate 43 food banks across Scotland, over 14,000 people used foodbanks in 2012-13 compared to the 5,700 people who used them in the previous year. Citizens Advice Scotland highlighted that over two thirds of clients needing a food parcel were struggling to cope with change in the welfare system and according to Barnardos, between 2007 and 2012 food prices have risen between 19 and 47%.
Food banks have also started producing ‘kettle boxes’ for those who access the banks that can’t afford the cost of electricity to run a cooker. A ‘cold box’ has also been produced that contains food that can be eaten without the need of heating or even hot water.
It is clear that the unfair welfare changes have put increased pressures on households throughout the Kingdom and this is one of the cause of increasing levels of food poverty but we cannot ignore the fact people are also ending up in that situation due to low income, zero hour contracts and a reliance on payday loans.
Food prices have increased and the increasing cost of living is having an impact on everyone. We should support food banks but our aim, through measures such as a living wage, a functioning fair welfare system, and better pay and conditions at work, must be to see the end of them.
Currently in Fife there are six food banks based in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Dunfermline, Leven, Cupar and Anstruther.
A video of the debate, including my speech at 17.14, can be found below.