Parliamentary Group Chair writes to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Yesterday on behalf of the BFAWU’s Parliamentary Group, Ian Mearns Mp wrote the following letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri :

Dear Mr Fakhri,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union Parliamentary Group, which brings together Members of the British Parliament who campaign on issues of interest to workers in the food sector.    

The Group is currently campaigning for the Right to Food to be incorporated into UK legislation, since sadly there is mounting evidence of widespread food insecurity in the UK. Professor Philip Alston, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, published a damning report to the UN Human Rights Council on the basis of his visit to the UK (23 April 2019), which found that:

People said they had to choose either to eat or heat their homes. Children are showing up at school with empty stomachs, and schools are collecting food and sending it home because teachers know their students will otherwise go hungry. And 2.5 million people in the United Kingdom survive with incomes no more than 10 per cent above the poverty line – just one crisis away from falling into poverty.

Since this report was compiled, the situation has only got worse – given the impact of falling incomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently the emergence of a widespread and serious cost-of-living crisis – with pay lagging well behind inflation, and energy and food prices both soaring.

Together with the Food and Work Network – a coalition of academics, public health professionals, community food practitioners and trade unions – based at Birkbeck College, University of London, we have called on the UK government to announce a National Food Emergency and to take immediate action to ensure that affordable and nutritious food is within the reach of all households:

We would urge you to consider visiting the UK and undertaking a report on the extent of food insecurity here, and we would be happy to host you in the UK Parliament to meet with MPs and other stakeholders with experience in this area. We would also welcome a discussion about how best a Right to Food can be enshrined into legislation.

We would be grateful if you could direct any correspondence to the Group’s Coordinator – Michael Calderbank, – who will ensure this is brought to our attention.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Mearns, Member of Parliament for Gateshead (UK Parliament)

Chair, BFAWU Parliamentary Group

Once we have a response we will update you further..