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Baroness Jenkin: Tory peer claims poor people use food banks because they don’t know how to cook

A Conservative peer has sparked a torrent of criticism after claiming that poor people use food banks because they don’t know how to cook, in the wake of news that the number of people unable to afford their own food is soaring.

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington made the remarks while launching a major report that showed that 4 million people are going hungry in Britain.

While launching the report, Baroness Jenkin said: “We have lost our cooking skills. Poor people don't know how to cook.

“I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p,” Mail Online reported Baroness Jenkin as saying. “A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.”

Baroness Jenkin was a member of the inquiry that produced the report, Feeding Britain, which found that many families are so desperate to avoid being evicted because they can’t pay rent, or having their gas and electric cut off, that they are forced to go hungry. “They go without food and therefore see food banks as reintroducing that buffer in their finances which many have lost,” the report’s authors warn.

 The report called for the government to set up a new network to co-ordinate the work of food banks and other charities.

Jenkin later sought to clarify her remarks, saying that a lack of cookery skills was only part of the problem.

"What I meant was as a society we have lost our ability to cook,” she told BBC Radio 4’s World At One. “That seems no longer to be handed down in the way that it was by previous generations.

"I am well aware that I made a mistake in saying it and apologise to anybody who's been offended by it.

"The point is valid. If people today had the cooking skills that previous generations had, none of us would be eating so much pre-prepared food."

Jenkin has been actively involved in causes around hunger and poverty, joining in with the 'Live Below the Line' campaign to live on £1 a day in 2011.

LBC Radio caller describes how he can't afford to eat

Further reading

We need new premises to keep South Belfast Foodbank going 

While the rest of us face austerity, the Lords spends roughly £65,000 a year on champagne, and is refusing to drink anything cheaper

Food banks: Hunger is stalking country, Archbishop of Canterbury tells MPs

Key facts about food bank use

Simon Community NI launch app to help homeless find support

Rise of the food bank in Northern Ireland is worrying

11,000 in Northern Ireland given emergency food parcels

Soup kitchen operator feeding the hungry in Republic of Ireland shuts premises after jail threat 

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