It was great to pop into the Can Cook Kitchen last Friday with my Labour Colleague Ali McGovern. Ali is developing a policy which would end foodbank use once and for all and wanted to discuss how Can Cook founder Robbie Davidson came up with his alternative model for ending food poverty.
The need for food banks is ever increasing, more people used food banks in my constituency this year than in the entire country in 2004. While everyone will recognise the hugely important work that food banks do in reducing the impact of soaring poverty and hugely disruptive changes to the benefits system they cannot be the Labour Party’s answer to food poverty.
As Labour members and MPs we have a duty to campaign for a properly funded and managed social security system that looks after those most in need while maintaining their dignity and freedom. Many of my constituents have told me that they feel ashamed when visiting food banks and I have seen first hand that the food on offer is often poor quality, unhealthy and almost impossible to cook a family meal with.
Can Cook have made a huge difference to my constituents by offering a choice of healthy foods that are as good as any supermarket. They also educate people about nutrition and how to cook so that they can make their own well informed choices about what they eat. This approach has given dignity back to those in need and in one area in this constituency a group of local mums have set up their own “Come Dine With Me” nights using their new cookery skills.
Hopefully Ali found what Robbie had to say about healthy food choices useful and is able to integrate his ideas into her policy making. Its time to end the need for food banks, shut them down and bring back a social security system that works.