Thousands of Salford children relying on food vouchers should never be allowed to go hungry, says the council.
Salford City Council has joined the Right to Food campaign, aiming to make nutritious food a right to all its citizens.
The pandemic has highlighted the extent of food poverty in the city where the council has been working with charities to provide food for anybody who is struggling.
Mayor Paul Dennett said: “The Spirit of Salford helpline, set up on 24th March 2020, has provided almost 3,500 food parcels so far and in October when the government wouldn’t support hungry families over half term, we gave out over 2,000 vouchers to prevent holiday hunger.
“Salford Food Bank, the main provider in the city, issued 358 parcels to 228 people in January and they have been working with Bethany Church in Little Hulton to feed around 70 families every week.”
The Right to Food campaign was formally backed by Salford City Council, at a Greater Manchester Combined Authority Meeting earlier this month.
Councillor Sharmina August, executive support member for equalities, communities and social impact at Salford City Council, said: “Having delivered food parcels around the city during lockdown, I’ve witnessed the need for a new approach to resolving the very real problem of food poverty in the UK.
“It’s disgraceful that so many are unable to provide sufficient food for their families, and that the government has done so little to help. No one, of any age or in any circumstances, should go hungry.”
Mr Dennett has sent a letter to the government calling for a drastic change to the National Food System in order to reduce food inequality.
The Mayor said: “People should not have to go without food in 2021 in this country – one of the richest countries in the world.
“I will continue the fight for a better and fairer city for all.”
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed more people into poverty. A YouGov survey for the Food Foundation found that 8 million people in the UK are facing food insecurity and 3 million people are going hungry.
The campaign led by Liverpudlian MP Ian Byrne aims to make the government responsible for addressing income inequalities and the broken benefit system, forcing the government to scrap the five-week wait for Universal Credit which is one of the main reasons people need to use food banks.
Although Marcus Rashford’s campaign to feed hungry children in the school holidays has been immensely successful, helping 1.3 million children in England, the campaign argues that it should be the government’s responsibility.
With the pandemic causing a dramatic rise in the number of people using foodbanks, the Trussell Trust’s network has seen a 47 percent increase in the number of emergency food parcels needed across the UK compared to last year, so the help offered by councils like Salford has been crucial.
To support the Right to Food campaign, sign a petition, which has received more than 44,000 signatures so far.