The rise of the ‘food bank’ has grabbed the headlines in recent months, as more and more people are struggling to put food on the table in the UK. Yet recent research has shown that emergency food use is just the tip of the iceberg – many more people do not have access to the levels of nutritious, sustainable food that most people would deem socially acceptable.
The Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty is bringing together experts, as well as those experiencing poverty, to look at the roles of government, civil society and the food industry in increasing the availability and accessibility of sustainable, nutritious food.
The Commission will be chaired by Geoff Tansey, a renowned writer, consultant and Trustee of the Food Ethics Council. The Commission also includes leading representatives from across civil society, trade unions, academia and the food industry.
Reporting in summer 2014, the Commission will assemble evidence on the major issues facing the food provisioning system. The hearings will cover money and affordability, context and access, health, the environment, and the supply chain and society. Each one will be addressed by expert witnesses, and the hearings will be accompanied by a call for evidence.
Food is becoming more expensive, and falling real incomes make healthy, nutritious diets less affordable. Yet food plays a wider role in society than simply making up a bundle of nutrients. We use it to celebrate festivals, to socialise with, and to express ourselves.
The Commission will be looking at the relationship between food and poverty with this broader role in mind, acknowledging that the role of food in society goes beyond the supply of it.
The first hearing, on ‘money and affordability’, took place on 19th November, taking evidence from Prof Liz Dowler (Uni Warwick), Dr Clive Black (Shore Capital), and Martin O’Connell (Institute for Fiscal Studies).