Welsh AMs table statement of opinion to tackle food poverty

The statement supports the Co-op Party’s campaign on the issue

A group of Welsh Assembly members tabled a statement of opinion in which they expressed support for the Co-operative Party’s Campaign for Food Justice.

The statement argues that the causes of rising hunger lie in austerity, tax and welfare changes, an economy that no longer provides a fair day’s pay for a fair days work for too many, and a broken housing market.

It also seeks a commitment to food justice in the the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act’s new ‘national milestones’ in Wales and encourages councils to designate a lead member with responsibility for “food, setting up a food action plan, promoting local food partnerships, and measuring the scale of the problem locally”.

AMs expressing support for the campaign (c) The Co-op Party

Statements of opinion are published on the Assembly website but there is no Assembly decision on them. The statement was also backed by Labour/Co-op AMs Mick Antoniw, Alun Davies and Lynne Neagle and Labour AMs Joyce Watson, Jenny Rathbone, Mike Hedges, Jayne Bryant, Vikki Howells and David Rees.

In March, the Co-op Party called on councils across the UK to develop a range of local responses to hunger and a lack of access to healthy food, as part of a wider campaign on the issue.

Writing for the Party’s blog, AM Huw Irranca-Davies, chair of the National Assembly for Wales, who also tabled the statement of opinion, called on councillors to use every mechanism at their disposal to tackle food poverty in Wales.

“We have the right policy and legal framework in Wales to do this with the Well-Being of Future Generations Act (WBFG Act), and a cross-government commitment to tackling poverty in all its forms,” he wrote. “But we need to do more to tackle food justice.

“We need practical actions, and clear milestones to track progress. And we need local as well as national action. We all have a part to play.”

The South Wales Food Poverty Alliance report published in February revealed that in 2017/18, 98,350 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to people in Wales in crisis by food banks in the Trussell Trust, 35,403 of them to children.

Mr Irranca-Davies called on councils throughout Wales to designate a lead member for food poverty; draw up a food action plan working with local partners; take inspiration from emerging community responses to food poverty; work with their existing local food partnership, or to set one up; and to get a measure of the scale of the problem in their area.

He added: “At an all-Wales level, underpinned by the flagship WBFG Act, we are calling for the recognition of the right to healthy and nutritious food, and a commitment to delivering food justice in Wales so we can track progress.

“At April’s Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno it was heartening to see so many people – including councillors and council leaders, grassroots Co-operative and Labour Party members, PCCs, AMs and MPs and Welsh Government Ministers – stop by the Wales Co-operative Party stall to support our Food Justice campaign. The Food Justice fringe event was well attended with some really inspirational speakers.

“So now, let’s turn this campaigning energy into Food Justice action at a local and national level. We believe that access to nutritious and healthy food is a right. Let’s take the practical steps to make Food Justice a reality in Wales.”

With this initiative, the Co-op Party is campaigning to persuade the UK Government to incorporate Sustainable Development Goal 2 ‘zero hunger by 2030’ into domestic law as part of a long-term goal of delivering food justice.