Article @ Left Foot Forward, published 1 March 2018
With 1 in 6 adults skipping meals for lack of money, the WI is waging in.
The number of people going hungry under austerity Britain has now reached such dramatic proportions the Women’s Institute has been forced to enter the debate.
The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) took matters to Westminster last night, where it vowed to confront government on the spiraling crisis of food poverty.
Figures published at the end of January by End Hunger UK revealed how one in six adults has skipped meals due to being cash-strapped. One in 12 have gone a whole day without eating because of lack of money.
At the NFWI panel discussion, High Peak Labour MP Ruth George highlighted how changes to tax credits distribution were affecting the budgets of some of Britain’s most vulnerable families.
Speaking on the discussion panel, free school breakfast charity Magic Breakfast CEO Carmel McConnell said:
“Right now between half a million and a million children are going to school too hungry to learn. We’re sleepwalking into an era of savage levels of deprivation.”
The Women’s Institute (WI) argued that working on issues of food and scarcity wasn’t a first for the 103 year-old organisation. It did, however, add that it the “food poverty angle” was a new one.
The debate will now be taken to the Institute’s over 6000 branches, where members will be encouraged to think not only about the affordability of food and the risks of food waste, but also how changes to benefits have affected Britons’ ability to purchase food.
Many WIs are said to already be working on questions linked to food poverty in their local communities, collecting for food banks or even running food sharing schemes.
“At the WI we don’t shy away from pushing the government,” NFWI chair Lynne Stubbings said on the night.
“We’re asking the government to make a difference and to measure food poverty, the scale of the problem and publish the data as to why so many people are in food poverty.”
The group is also calling for the creation of a ministry dedicated to overseeing the issue of food poverty.
Also present at the discussion in Westminster was MP Emma Lewell-Black, whose Food Insecurity Bill is due a second reading later this year. It couldn’t be more needed given these new figures.