Hunger is a Political Choice

Politicians, football clubs, medics, academics, trade unions, mayors, councils and voluntary organisations come together to deliver an urgent
letter – and message – to Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne this afternoon led a delegation of Right
To Food campaign supporters to Downing Street to deliver a letter – and a
message – to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of Wednesday’s Spring Budget.
Eleven million people in the UK now experience food insecurity and this
situation will continue to get worse as people face the worst cost-of-living
crisis in 30 years. Millions of people now face a choice between whether to
freeze or starve in their homes as the cost of energy, food, essentials and bills all rise dramatically.

The Right To Food campaign believes that Hunger Is A Political Choice and has today delivered a letter to the Chancellor from Right To Food campaign leader Ian Byrne MP, co-signed by a wide range of campaign supporters, which urges Mr Sunak to deliver on five key demands of the Right To Food campaign in Wednesday’s mini budget.

Signatories to Ian Byrne MP’s letter to Chancellor Sunak include:
• Liverpool FC
• Liverpool FC Women
• Liverpool FC Foundation
• Everton FC
• Millwall FC
• Millwall FC Community Trust
• Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham
• Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotherham
• Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson
• North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll
• Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite the Union
• Gary Smith, General Secretary of GMB
• Ian Hodson, President of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
• Sarah Woolley, General Secretary of BFAWU
• Dave Ward, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union
• Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretaries of the
National Education Union (NEU)
• Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council
• Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
• Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council
• Cllr Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council
• Cllr Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council
• Professor Michel Pimbert, Agroecology and Food Politics, Coventry
• Dr Regina Keith, Food, Nutrition and Public Health, University of
• Professor Eileen O’Keefe, Emeritus of Public Health, London
Metropolitan University
• Professor Ian Sinha, Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician, Alder Hey
Children’s Hospital, Liverpool
• Professor John O’Keefe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University
College London
• Fans Supporting Foodbanks
• Churches Together Merseyside
• 25 Members of Parliament

The letter from Ian Byrne MP on behalf of the Right To Food campaign tells
Chancellor Sunak that the Government is responsible for creating an
environment that is pushing millions of families into food poverty. It reads:
“The political choices you make over the next few months are the difference
between life and death for the most vulnerable in our communities. Hunger is a political choice. Fuel poverty is a political choice. Choices made by your
Government. Something must change.”

In the letter the campaign calls directly on Chancellor Sunak to include
provision for key campaign requests in the Spring Statement on 23 March
2022 and to choose to end to end hunger in the UK by:

  1. Providing universal free school meals.
  2. Stating how much of minimum / living wages and benefits (on which people are expected to live) is for food.
  3. Right To Food legislation to be accompanied by oversight and enforcement powers granted to a new independent regulatory body that will hold Government to account.
  4. Funding community kitchens including dining clubs and ‘meals-on-wheels’ services for the elderly and vulnerable, school holiday meals for those most in need and community cookery clubs.
  5. Ensuring food security – and taking this duty into account when setting
    competition, planning, transport, local government and all other policy.
    Ian Byrne MP for Liverpool West Derby who is leading the Right To Food
    campaign in Parliament says:
    “We know that food poverty leads to health and life expectancy inequality, malnutrition, obesity and a host of other related problems, including even long-term epigenetic changes. It will affect children’s educational attainment and life chances. Less measurable but no less important, is the effect on individual human dignity and social cohesion over time in our polarised nations of food banks next to investment banks.
    “The pandemic has demonstrated that in the face of new threats and
    challenges, society is only as resilient as its most vulnerable and its
    mechanisms for caring for everyone.
    “This is a humanitarian crisis requiring permanent solutions, not mere tinkering with a fundamentally broken system. The time for sticking plasters is over. No more reliance on foodbanks, donations and food pantries. We need systemic change so that all people might live with the opportunity of health, happiness and dignity. Enforceable food rights are needed so that Government is accountable for ensuring that nobody goes hungry – and is prevented from making decisions that lead to people being unable to put a meal on the table.
    “The buck stops at the door of Government and the Right To Food campaign calls on the Chancellor today to make the Right to Food a reality for millions of people in his Spring Statement. I also extend an open invitation for Mr Sunak to visit Liverpool, where one-third of the people are experiencing food insecurity.”