Written by By James Morris, CNN
There’s a sentiment that hunger should only be a shameful problem that afflicts the poorest sections of society. And while there’s no doubt this is deeply offensive to those who have suffered (or continue to suffer) this awful affliction, the belief that the problem is “done to” those who “don’t have enough food” begs the question of who is helping whom and at what cost?
Most food banks in the UK have strict criteria that must be fulfilled before food parcels can be given out. These include that households need to have had “no paid work in the past month, more than three days of unpaid domestic work, a declared income of no more than £27,000, or inpatient stay of over three days in a hospital full time in the last 12 months.” This is a big problem in a country where an estimated three in five households received no paid work last year.
But for most families there is a second snag: the food bank does not just supply aid to those in crisis, but it can often help families who are just “surviving.” “They’ll be in poverty, or at the edge of it, and they’re having to make cuts to families, or to their own budgets. It’s a really tough place to be in,” says Robbie Collett, a Guardian reporter who wrote a book about shopping for food.
Perishable food is a hot topic in the US and the UK, with the so-called “organic boom” expected to double food waste across Europe within a decade. Despite the industry’s claims that cuts to production are helping the environment, some experts worry that further cuts could push prices up in both countries as a shortage of supply is at risk.