THE chairman for an East Staffordshire family support group and prospective MP for Uttoxeter is urging community groups to back a campaign to end food poverty.
Jon Wheale highlighted the research by parenting website Netmums as he endorsed End Hunger Fast, a national campaign calling on the Government to address the reasons behind the increased use of foodbanks and food poverty.
Mr Wheale, chairman of East Staffordshire Family Support said: “One in five Uttoxeter mothers is skipping meals to feed their kids.
“I am calling on all local community groups to back the End Hunger Fast campaign to end food poverty.
“These figures are causing serious concern and should not be tolerated in the seventh richest nation in the world.
“As it fights to eradicate this scourge from our communities, I’m pleased to support the community based campaign – End Hunger Fast.
“I hope all community, faith and non-faith groups and leaders will do the same, as well as local people who are concerned about food poverty.”
Campaign organisers claim 500,000 people have received food aid since Easter and that 5,500 people have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition in the past year compared to 3,000 in 2008.
They blame the 30.5 per cent rise in the food prices in the past five years, stagnant or falling real incomes, unemployment, casualisation of work, benefit rises capped to one per cent rather than linked to inflation, and the halving of the value of out-of-work benefits relative to average incomes in the last three decades.
They also point the finger at benefit reforms and attribute 30 per cent of food bank visits to benefit delays and 15 per cent due to sanctions against claimants.
During the winter months Mr Wheale has packed and delivered emergency food parcels for a Salvation Army foodbank as well as helping with a YMCA breakfast service for the homeless.
These experiences have reinforced his support for the campaign’s call for an investigation into failing food markets, a guarantee work should pay, and the provision of a welfare safety net – support the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Vincent Nichols said had been ‘torn apart’.
Mr Wheale has joined with others backing End Hunger Fast, who will be circulating a letter among local community groups in a bid to attract signatures of support for the campaign.
The text of the letter warns that ‘more and more families are just one unexpected bill away from facing bare cupboards’ and urges people to join a National Day of Fasting on April 4. Further information is available at endhungerfast.co.uk