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End Hunger Fast - Baptist support for new campaign

A Lent campaign to highlight and address food poverty in the UK has been welcomed by Baptists

End Hunger Fast300With a half a million people using foodbanks in the last year, the End Hunger Fast campaign aims to bring a national focus on why people are going hungry.

It calls the government to task on three areas - welfare, low wages and food markets that have contributed to food inflation - and has earmarked 4 April as a national day of fasting.

The movement, spearheaded by Church Action on Poverty, the Trussell Trust, Quakers and Just Fair, has the backing of many church leaders across the UK, including Baptists Together.

The Revd Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader said, ‘Many of our churches are involved in the provision of foodbanks in their communities, and they are seeing the reality of people who, through a variety of circumstances, simply do not have enough to eat. No one in Britain should be going hungry or forced to choose between heating and eating.

‘The End Hunger Fast campaign to seeks to address the causes of why this is happening and bring a renewed focus on the issue to tackle this injustice. We welcome the campaign and encourage everyone in our churches to think about ways they can take part.’

End Hunger Fast specifically calls on the Government to ensure that the welfare system provides ‘a robust last line of defence against hunger in Britain’ – 30 per cent of those visiting food banks do so because their benefits have been delayed, 15 per cent because they are under sanction.

It also calls on the Government to make work pay enough for working people to properly provide for their families. Stagnant and falling real incomes, unemployment, and casualization of work have contributed to less money for food. Research also shows around 60 per cent of families with an income under £17,000 have cut back on food to save money with an even higher rate among families on £17,000-£30,000.

Finally the End Hunger Fast Campaign calls on the Government to make sure that ‘food markets function, promoting long term sustainable and healthy diets with no one profiteering off hunger in Britain.’ Rapidly rising food prices - up 30.5per cent in the past five years – have had a major impact on the growing hunger in the UK.

All these factors were highlighted in a Government-commissioned report looking into food aid, which was released last Thursday.

The researchers said rising food prices, shrinking incomes, low pay and increasing personal debt meant families were struggling to pay for enough food.
It added that benefit payment problems were also a factor in the increase in demand for food.

Elsewhere a petition calling on George Osborne to tackle a number of these issues in his March budget was launched by anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe. Her petition triggered a Parliament debate on foodbanks in December.

To find out more visit http://endhungerfast.co.uk/

Baptist Times, 26/02/2014
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