Long before I was elected as a councillor, I set up the Wandsworth Food Partnership. I cherish being Chief Facilitator (in effect, chair) of the Partnership, which does tremendous work bringing together community organisations which tackle food poverty. But it could be so much more rewarding and effective if the Conservative administration took food poverty remotely seriously.
It would not take much to put things right and I don’t feel I’m asking for the earth when we’re dealing with a topic as important as food. As chair of our local Food Partnership, here is what I want from my local council:
I want to see the Council have a lead member for food poverty who attends the Food Partnership. This would provide a focus within the council for action to tackle hunger.
I want to see a committee tasked with tackling poverty and inequality and this committee would have the responsibility of putting together a food action plan which would draw on the talent and expertise in both community statutory and organisations to alleviate food poverty.
I want to see a lead member from the Opposition Group appointed to shadow the Administration’s lead member who can hold them account, tap into networks which the council cannot and who can ensure that when the Council does publish its draft plan there’s an appropriate level of scrutiny and challenge to make sure the plan is robust.
And I want to see the Council include a measure of food poverty in its Annual Borough Survey so that we can see the effectiveness (or otherwise) of our interventions.
We’re a wealthy country. Having enough food on the table so people don’t go hungry should be a basic. I want to shout from the rooftops “Hey, this is not that difficult to get right guys”. And we know that relatively modest amounts of money spent now is an investment so that we’re not storing up a whole heap of social, educational, emotional and psychological problems which will appear in later life – and which will cost a huge amount of pain and money to sort out down the life. Let’s make a start.