From the soup kitchens of 1939 to the food banks of 2016

(This is the text of a letter I wrote that was published in the Brighton Argus on 30th August 2016)

In Timeout Argus (24 August 2016) you quoted a piece from the Brighton and Hove Gazette from April 1939: “Moulsecoomb’s struggle to survive” with the following quote: “There are people at Moulsecoomb so poor they cannot afford two pence – the price of a bowl of piping hot meat stew at the food kitchen”.

Isn’t it ironic that in 2016 food banks proliferate in one of the richest countries in the world, including in Brighton and Hove, one of this country’s richest cities? Actually, isn’t it a scandal that such inequalities exist today?

Reflecting with a colleague on a recent celebration event at our Whitehawk Inn Project, she said that some of the people had only come for the food, and that it was probably the first meal some had had that week.

imageI was shocked. Another colleague told me that food banks are a fundamental support without which some of our clients and tenants would not survive. 1939, and now 2016. Surely we should be doing much better than this?

I am so grateful to the food banks and to the many community groups who help people to survive, providing food and helping them to overcome isolation and loneliness. I just wish there was no need for them.


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