The Covid pandemic has exposed and worsened a number of existing inequalities, with the most vulnerable, children and families suffering disproportionally. Exeter Foodbank quotes figures from Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau showing a 78% increase in enquiries about foodbanks in the past 6 months. Exeter City Councillors believe no one should go hungry, and least of all children.
Exeter City Council’s Member Champion for Equality and Diversity, Trish Oliver, said: “The current pandemic and lockdown imposed on the majority of the City’s economic activities have revealed and exacerbated existing inequalities, leading to further unemployment and income insecurity, and more food poverty as a result.”
Amal Ghusain, Lead Councillor for Communities and Culture, praised the key role played by community voluntary groups, local schools, Exeter City and Devon County Councils, in supporting those suffering food poverty during the pandemic, but stressed: “The efforts of volunteers, charitable donations, and stop-gap funding, while proving vital during this crisis, are not a substitute for coordinated Government action, in particular reversing austerity cuts that have decimated services over the last ten years.”
Ruth Williams, Lead Councillor for Supporting People, said “families and children should not go short of healthy affordable food. Food poverty is a modern day scandal that needs to be solved. Exeter City Council is proposing to build on the lessons learned during this difficult period by developing and implementing an Exeter Food Action Plan, in conjunction with city-based partners and stakeholders.”
The Labour Councillors Food Action Motion will be debated and voted on in the Council virtual meeting due to take place on Dec 15th.
Among other actions it is proposed that the City Council develop a city-wide food action plan. To research and map the extent of food poverty in the city. It also proposes that the Ciuncil commit to setting up a food partnership with Devon County Council, city-based partners and stakeholders to develop and implement the Exeter Food Action Plan.
The Council meeting will be live streamed on facebook by Exeter City Council.