Congress recognises that we are seeing a crisis of food poverty born out of the political choices and systemic failings created over the past four decades, which have now reached a tipping point for so many in our communities.
In 2019, the government commissioned Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of our food system. The government has committed to use the recommendations of the report as the basis for a national food strategy in the form of a White Paper. We must hold them to account on this.
Malnutrition, obesity, food poverty and many of the other challenges within or as a result of our food system existed long before Covid-19 or Brexit and now is the time for urgent fundamental change.
The right to adequate food is a fundamental human right, firmly established in international law. Yet many in the UK find themselves in a position where due to a lack of income they have no access to adequate food, never mind decent nutritious food. We cannot continue to have a system that simultaneously makes so many of us ill while leaving so many of us with too little to eat.
Congress recognises the fantastic work of Ian Byrne MP in putting pressure on Henry Dimbleby to include the right to food in the National Food Strategy and notes that this is the first independent review of England’s entire food system for 75 years. Its purpose is to set out a vision for the kind of food system we should be building for the future, and a plan for how to achieve that vision. Yet the NFS consulted no unions.
The “Right To Food” campaign is arguing that the 11 million people in food poverty should be central to this strategy.
Congress calls on the TUC and its affiliated unions to support the “Right To Food” campaign because enshrining the right to food into law would clarify government obligations on food poverty and would introduce legal avenues to hold government bodies accountable for violations and raise millions out of food poverty.
Congress believes that nobody should live in food poverty and that everyone should have a right to affordable, nutritious food and that this right should be enshrined in law.
Congress welcomes the recommendations in part one of the report including:
i. the protection of the UK’s food standards and public health during trade negotiations, which should be opened up to greater parliamentary scrutiny
ii. the expansion of free school meals and the holiday and food programme and the Healthy Start voucher scheme in England.
Congress calls on the General Council to ensure that the government accept the recommendations in the report and to publish a comprehensive national food strategy as soon as possible.
Congress also calls on the TUC to demand the government:
a. consults unions to inform its White Paper
b. introduces sector collective bargaining, and reinstates the English AWB
c. tackles supply chain inequality, ensuring profits go to workers, including impoverished food workers, not just investors.
Mover: Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union
Seconder: British Dietetic Association