CHURCH leaders have called for urgent action on food hunger.
The Right Reverend John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford delivered a letter, signed by 47 bishops and more than 500 members of the clergy, to the Prime Minister’s constituency office in Witney yesterday.
Bishop John said: “Food poverty and hunger is a huge problem and is much more serious than people realise.”
It is hoped the letter, organised by the End Hunger Fast campaign, will raise awareness of food poverty.
Bishop John said: “I am very pleased to support the End Hunger Fast campaign, though of course I regret that it is necessary in 21st century Britain.”
The letter states: “This shocking figure is well under the total going hungry – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those families not in crisis, but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.
“Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it, and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.”
It comes as figures reveal a huge rise in the number of people using some of Oxfordshire’s food banks.
The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks in Bicester and Banbury, said it had seen the number of people using them increase by 50 per cent in two years. More than 4,000 people received parcels from the food banks last year compared to 2,879.
Janet Ray, project manager at the Bicester Food Bank in Victoria Road, said: “There was a huge increase the year before last. We would hope that people didn’t need the food bank, but obviously we are there for them.”
The Oxford Food Bank, which was set up by volunteers in 2009, has also reported a huge rise in the number of food deliveries Organiser David Cairns said: “We started four-and-a-half years ago with five charities and now serve over 55. At the Oxford Food Bank we deliberately don’t get involved with politics.”
The food bank in Lamarsh Road is open every day and delivers around £1m worth of food every year.
Nationally,The Trussell Trust, reported a 163 percent increase in food bank use over the past year.
Across the UK, 913,138 people in crisis were provided with three days’ emergency food between April 1, 2013, and March 31 this year.
David Cameron’s office said he was unavailable for comment.
THERE TO HELP
- THE North Oxfordshire Food Bank in Kidlington provides food parcels for people living in the Kidlington, Woodstock, Chipping Norton and Charlbury area.
- Jo Cypher, of the Oxfordshire West Food Bank in Witney, said they regularly deliver nine to 12 parcels each week.
- The Wantage and Grove Food Bank delivered 263 food parcels last year and organiser Helen Margetts said she has seen a steep rise in deliveries since 2010.
- Volunteers from the Didcot Baptist Church run a food bank in the church on Wantage Road.
- A food bank in Carterton – the second in the Prime Minister’s constituency – opened last month due to high demand.
- Jane Benyon, founder of the Oxford Emergency Foodbank in Hollow Way, Cowley, has also seen a steep rise in the number of visitors. They had 3,300 people from April 2013 and 2014. The year before they had 1,750.
- If you have used a food bank in Oxfordshire and wish to share your story, contact firstname.lastname@example.org