Food Banks: part of the’ ‘new normal’

Food Banks: no sign of political outrage or indignation at the Assembly

It is only a few years ago that the concept of Food Banks as we currently know them, was almost unheard of.

Now there are estimated to be more than 30 foodbanks in Northern Ireland. Last year the Trussel Trust alone prepared and distributed around more than 78,000 emergency food parcels; in excess of one and a half thousand every week.

Many other foodbanks run by local charities and churches also provide support and help. Demand for foodbanks rose by 80% last year alone.

They have become so much part of routine life that donating items to them is seen as an act of good citizenship, and of course it is. However, the better citizenship is to make a donation but also to challenge why Food Banks are needed and why well over 30,000children a year depend on them for their meals.

Food banks exist, and demand for them grows, because people and their families are hungry, because they have no other way of feeding themselves, but as with many pressing social issues there is no sign of political outrage or indignation at the Assembly.

There are no imaginative plans to end food poverty, no political commitment to ending the indignity of Food Bank queues and no guarantees that all children can look forward to a healthy and consistent diet.

There is an absence of all of these. It is almost as if the silence amongst Assembly members suggests something distasteful about addressing these problems.

Perhaps the German poet and playwright, Bertlot Brecht, had the measure of the five main parties at Stormont when he said:

Amongst the highly placed
It is considered low to talk about food.
The fact is: they have already eaten’

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