The cost-of-living crisis is squeezing the incomes of workers in Britain and across the world. Increasingly, many are having to turn to food banks to meet their most basic needs.
A recent report by the Trussell Trust found that between 2010/11 and 2021/22, the number of food bank users increased from just under 26,000 to more than 2.56 million.
This growing food poverty has been made even worse by soaring energy bills and rising inflation in recent months, which come on top of years of stagnant wages and cuts to welfare.
Scandalously, the Tories are seeking to blame workers for not being able to feed themselves – suggesting that we should simply learn to cook, or to shop on a budget. As if workers haven’t already been shopping on a budget for over a decade as a result of Tory austerity!
As household energy costs reach their highest levels since the 1950s, millions are being forced to cut back wherever they can. 1-in-7 adults (7.3 million) have reported to have skipped meals during the first three months of this year – a 57% increase since January.
Some food banks have even begun to offer takeaway meals to those who cannot afford the gas or electricity required to cook at home.
Increasingly, people are being left with little choice but to steal food just in order to survive and feed their children. Some shoppers ‘accidentally’ don’t scan costly items like washing powder at self-checkouts, in order to make their money go a little further on things they can actually eat, despite the shame and potential risk of being caught.
Andy Cooke, the chief inspector of constabulary, said police officers should use their “discretion” when dealing with such poverty-driven crimes. However, Tory policing minister Kit Malthouse has responded by stating that the police should “not be ignoring these seemingly small crimes”.
In the opinion of the Tories, the profits of supermarket bosses must take precedence over the hunger and lives of ordinary people.
According to the latest estimates, 7.3 million adults and 2.6 million children have experienced food insecurity in the last month. Yet the UK produces 9.5 million tonnes of food waste every single year.
This waste and ‘poverty amidst plenty’ is the result of the anarchy and chaos of capitalism – a system driven by the profit motive, instead of production for need.
It is those who defend this cruel, callous system who are the real criminals.
Poor get poorer
For over a decade, Tory austerity and capitalist crises have pushed millions further into poverty. The working class have shouldered the burden of cuts, while the Tories have handed out bailouts and lucrative government contracts to their friends in big business.
Ignoring the real problems responsible for hunger, Tory MPs have suggested that the poor should simply turn to ‘value brands’ to alleviate their food bills.
Even then, this glosses over the fact that, since January, the largest supermarkets have hiked-up the prices of their value-range food products by up to 29% in some cases.
This out-of-touch attitude was typified by Tory MP Lee Anderson, who asserted in Parliament, that: “There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”
This smug condemnation comes from a man with an annual salary of £81,932, and who claimed around £223,000 in expenses in just one year! How courteous it is for this fat cat to teach us how to suck eggs.
For planning, not profit
It is not the fault of workers or their children for going hungry. It is capitalism that cannot provide people with life’s most basic necessities, meaning that millions are barely able to make ends meet, let alone live long, happy, fulfilling lives.
The wealth and resources exist in society to solve – and even eradicate – hunger and food poverty. The problem is that these are in the hands of the bosses, billionaires, and bankers.
To abolish hunger, homelessness, poverty and all the other scourges on society once and for all, we must fight to overthrow capitalism and transform society along socialist lines.
This means giving the capitalists the boot, and expropriating the big supermarkets, food producers, and banks.
If food production and distribution was democratically-run on the basis of need, as part of a socialist planned economy in the hands of the working class, then all scarcity and waste could be eliminated, along with poverty and hunger.
Only on this basis – producing for the needs of the many, instead of the profits of the few – can we ensure access to affordable and nutritious food for all, so that no one must feel the pain of an empty stomach again.