Food banks
Field said the "national fight-back against hunger" begins in BirkenheadIBTimes UK

The UK government's poverty tsar has started the "national fight-back" against hunger in Britain with the launch of the first pilot project to come after a major report into food poverty.

Frank Field, who co-chaired the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty, formed Feeding Birkenhead.

The network is working towards a hunger-free town and is backed by FareShare, Wirral Food Bank, YMCA Wirral, and representatives from 17 local churches and other voluntary groups.

Field said the "national fight-back against hunger" begins in Birkenhead.

"We're bringing together our churches, charities, schools and supermarkets to get food to those in need and, as importantly, to use this as a way of beginning to deal with the major problems in people's lives," he said.

"An important first goal is to make sure no child in the town goes hungry in the next school holiday at Easter.

"I've been overwhelmed by the number of churches and other bodies already helping to overcome poverty in Birkenhead, and they are to be saluted."

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the specific issues that push individuals and families in the town to the brink of hunger.

It will then use this to push for local improvements, for example, in the time taken to administer new benefit claims and the take-up of emergency payments.

A key part of Feeding Birkenhead will involve diverting more good surplus food that would otherwise go to waste from supermarkets' supply chains to those groups working with people in need.

Feeding Birkenhead will also seek to offer activities alongside this food such as cooking courses, budgeting and debt advice, and awareness of relevant benefits and utility schemes.

The launch comes after the Feeding Britain report, which was backed by the Church of England, warned that the nation's food industry wastes 4.3 million tonnes of food every year.

The cross-party report found that currently just 2% of the edible waste is diverted to charities.

The Trussell Trust reported that it has seen the number of its food banks rocket from 40,898 outlets in 2009/10 to 913,138 in 2013/2014.

"We all know about the rise in food banks and the number of people turning to them in times of crisis over the last few years," Archbishop Justin Welby said.

"How shocking it is to find this happening here. I've seen much worse. But it's finally here – it's in the wrong place. We don't do that in this country and we need to stop. There's been a grassroots response to the problems that have opened our eyes to the problems themselves."

Food banks: The struggle to feed BritainIBTimes UK