Child Poverty Panel and Food Banks

Child poverty is a serious issue and needs to be addressed with the aims of eradicating it. Not an easy task in anyone’s book. The Children’s School and Family Scrutiny Committee whose area this covers set up a Single Issue Panel to gather evidence from various organisations. Once this has completed a report will be compiled and presented to the main Committee. It will not be able to solve this complex issue, but will highlight areas that Cornwall Council can address.

Today was the chance for another organisation to present its evidence. This organisation was the Trussel Trust (www.trusseltrust.org). This Charity runs 5 Food Banks in Cornwall which are based in Truro, Bude, Liskeard, Falmouth and St. Austell. They plan to open three more in Helston, Newquay and Penzance. These are part of the franchise of 80 food banks in the UK under the umbrella of this Charity. During the first year of operation (Sept 2009/10) the Truro Food Bank (www.trurofoodbank.org) was donated nearly 5 tons of food, which over 3 tons was distributed to about 500 people. Over a quarter of whom are children. The commonest causes for crisis are benefit delays and cuts, debt, homelessness and unemployment.

On Sundays Politics show the subject of food banks was also highlighted and a more worryingly it highlighted a different group of people who are now coming to these banks. This group are those people who are in employment, but have had a set back like illness, drop in salary, or some change in personal circumstances.

I asked the question to those present from the Trust if this issue was being replicated in Cornwall. The simple answer was “No, not yet”. It is the “not yet” that has got me worried.

So how does this system work? It is run on a voucher system that around 40 organisations currently hold and then can issue them to people in need. These organisations include CAB, community Police, Housing Associations, Doctors, homeless charities and churches. Once you are given this voucher you take it to the depot where you will be given 3 days worth of emergency food. This of course does not completely solve any issue, but in many cases it throws the lifeline that is desperately needed.

It makes you think what would happen if groups and charities like the Trussel Trust were not around. What other means would people resort to just to stop being hungry. That list would be extensive and in a lot of cases probably not legal.

Further information and contact details are: Phone – 0772171669, email – info@trurofoodbank.org or their website – www.trurofoodbank.org

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