Charity slams food bank critic
Published 03/01/2013 | 19:22
A charity that provides almost 300 food banks across the UK has criticised comments made by a Tory councillor questioning the need for the resource.
Chris Steward, who is a City of York councillor and chairman of the city's Conservatives, said no-one was starving in the UK and suggested it was largely a question of poorer people not managing their budgets properly.
He told the York Press: "We have lots of poor people, but living standards have surged over the years. There is certainly no need for food banks; no-one in the UK is starving and I think food banks insult the one billion in the world that go to bed hungry every day and ignore the fact a child dies of hunger every three seconds.
"The fact some give food to food banks, merely enables people who can't budget (an issue where schools should do much more and I have said the council should) or don't want to, to have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes etc."
The councillor took to Twitter today to defend his position and his remarks provoked a wave of protest on the micro-blogging site. The Trussell Trust, which provides more than 250 food banks across the UK, condemned Mr Steward's comments and said he was misinformed.
Executive chairman Chris Mould told the Press Association the councillor was wrong to say living standards had surged, pointing to stagnant wages, rising food prices and soaring fuel bills.
Mr Mould said people were referred to his charity's food banks by professionals who were witnessing real need on a daily basis.
"Who would you believe: Councillor Steward, or thousands of care professional across the UK who refer people in crisis day-in, day-out? Who do you trust - these are health visitors, police officers, all kinds of people helping thousands of people out there."
Mr Mould added: "People have varied but very genuine reasons for needing food banks. It's not about budgeting. People haven't got the money to spend. I think politicians need to go and spend time listening to the people who are struggling at the moment in he UK. They need to spend time understanding what it's like."
He added: "We come across people who haven't eaten for days because they've used whatever food they had to feed their children."