Human Rights Watch has revealed in a report that government cuts on welfare have resulted in “tens of thousands” of poor families not having enough food to eat.
“The right to food is a fundamental human right…however, [it] remains unrealized for the increasing number of people, many of whom are families with children, living on the breadline” stated the shocking report, which was aptly named Nothing Left in the Cupboards.
According to the report, one of the main foodbank charities in the UK has seen a 5146% rise in the number of people needing emergency food parcels.
Adam Smith founded The Real Junk Food Project, a pay-as-you-feel organisation designed to feed the world. He sat outside the Sharehouse, a converted farm house in Wakefield, where food is processed and packaged after being donated from nearby restaurants and supermarkets. Sainsburys, Nandos and Morrisons are all part of the scheme, donating food that they have not been able to sell, but is too good to waste.
“We’re designed to effectively run ourselves out of business,” said Smith. “If we’re still open in 10 years, it means we’ve failed. The goal is to end hunger worldwide.”
The Real Junk Food Project is designed for use by everyone. Many people who you wouldn’t think would be struggling to feed themselves use the project frequently, including teachers and lawyers according to Smith. Hunger and poverty are no longer Dickensian concepts, suffered only by the orphan child in rags. Smith told me that working professionals, students, families, employed and unemployed all struggle, therefore the project is designed to help as broad a range as possible. Their pay-as-you-feel cafes, where the menu is designed to use the food that supermarkets just couldn’t sell despite their fine condition combat two massive societal problems: hunger and food waste.
The project operates almost completely without money. The partnerships, Sharehouse, and cafes all aim to utilise the milk of human kindness, taking away the machine-like perception of humans either being consumers or producers. The RJFP’s ethical ethos echoes what the Human Rights Watch report stated earlier in the week; that people should not be starving in the world’s fifth largest economy.
Nothing Left in the Cupboards explores the UK government’s silence on the issue, and the policies implemented under the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition, and the subsequent Conservative governments in later years. The benefit caps, cuts and freezes have had a disastrous effect on the households relying on benefits to feed their children. The report also states that it should not fall on the shoulders of volunteers in food banks or soup kitchens to make sure people don’t starve. In Human Rights Watch’s opinion, the right to food should be provided by a government for its citizens, something which the UK government has failed to do time and time again.