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Tory peer Jenkin sorry for jibe about poor being bad cooks

By Staff Reporter

A Conservative peer has apologised after suggesting hunger in Britain was caused in part by poor people being unable to cook.

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington made the controversial claim at the House of Commons launch of the Feeding Britain report, which called for action from the Government, supermarkets and "rip-off" utility companies to stem the rising tide of poor households seeking help from food banks.

David Cameron said there were "elements" of the report that the Government would "want to take forward", but there was no immediate response to a plea from the Archbishop of Canterbury for £100,000 in State money to kickstart a new organisation designed to eliminate hunger in the UK by 2020. Archbishop Justin Welby, who will be president of the new Feeding Britain group, said it was "shocking" to see thousands of people in a wealthy country reduced to seeking food handouts, and told the launch meeting that its proposals to end hunger were "eminently practical and not unreasonably expensive".

Lady Jenkin, who served on the inquiry team that produced the document, said hunger stemmed in part from the disappearance of the knowledge needed to create cheap and nourishing meals.

"We have lost our cooking skills," said the peer - the wife of Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin.

"Poor people don't know how to cook.

"I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p."

She later acknowledged that her words had been badly chosen and said she was trying to get across the message that home-cooked meals are often cheaper and more nutritious than packaged food.

She told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "What I meant was as a society we have lost our ability to cook. 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."

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