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Suffolk to get food poverty officer to lead efforts in supporting families

PUBLISHED: 18:47 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:47 03 September 2020

Low income families in Suffolk are having to relying on foodbank parcels like this, which Suffolk County Council's food justice action plan aims to help address. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Low income families in Suffolk are having to relying on foodbank parcels like this, which Suffolk County Council's food justice action plan aims to help address. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A dedicated officer is being recruited in Suffolk to lead the county’s efforts in eradicating food poverty.

Labour group spokesman for children's services at Suffolk County Council, Jack Abbott, said it was vital an action plan was developed swiftly.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLabour group spokesman for children's services at Suffolk County Council, Jack Abbott, said it was vital an action plan was developed swiftly. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County Council pledged to form a food justice action plan by the end of 2021 after a motion was given unanimous support in July, with the recruitment of a food justice officer representing the first step.

The officer will lead the development of the plan and the measures which emerge from it, with the aim of cracking down on food poverty issues in Suffolk’s communities.

An estimated 50,000 youngsters in Suffolk are living in poverty, with low income families relying on foodbanks to get by.

Fears have already been raised that the situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, where some will have been unable to work or may have lost jobs entirely.

Councillor Jack Abbott, opposition Labour group spokesman at the county council who put forward the motion, said: “The levels of food poverty in Suffolk are devastating, with the problem only set to get worse as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to force people into hardship through no fault of their own.

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“It is why I proposed the motion and why Suffolk County Council must work quickly and decisively to produce a food justice plan to tackle poverty in our county.

“It is really encouraging that this critical issue will have a dedicated focus and I hope that whoever comes into the new role can hit the ground running – I look forward to working with them closely.”

The action plan will not only come up with a list of measures to help those families in need, but also investigate some of the causes of the problem.

It includes a pledge for a cabinet member to take on food justice as a responsibility, as well as encourage those eligible for free school meals to take up the option.

Data presented to the council in July showed around 17,600 pupils are claiming free school meals in Suffolk – up by 1,500 during lockdown.

According to the Trussell Trust, food banks nationally reported an 89% increase in demand in April, during the first full month of Covid-19 lockdown.

A date for when the officer will take up their role has not yet been given.

A spokesman from the council’s administration has been approached for comment.


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