FOLLOWING the publication of the ‘A Menu for Change’ report by Oxfam Scotland, Nourish Scotland, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group, MSP Claire Baker has called for immediate action to reduce food bank dependency in Fife and throughout Scotland.

The report shows 596,472 emergency food parcels were handed out in Scotland in the 18 months to September 2019, averaging over 1,000 food parcels every day. This represents an increase of 22% on the number distributed in the previous 18 months.

In Fife the number of emergency food parcels distributed by independent food banks, which includes the operations in Cowdenbeath and Benarty, increased by 56% across the period, with over 40,000 parcels distributed out in the 18 months to September 2019.

Ms Baker has also repeated her call on the Scottish Government to take action through the forthcoming Good Food Nation Bill to provide a commitment to everyone in Scotland on the right to food.

MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker said: “This research shows a significant and distressing increasing in the number of emergency food parcels required across Fife, with increasing numbers of families and individuals pushed into food insecurity as a result of unsustainable and insecure incomes.

“Food insecurity continues to be a critical issue. These figures are extremely concerning, but unfortunately they do not represent the full extent of food insecurity, as many people skip meals instead of using a food bank".

She added: “The Scottish and UK Government need to take action to address the underlying causes of increasing food insecurity.

"The maximisation of benefits is key to better supporting those in poverty and improving job security by banning zero-hours contracts would help prevent instability of income. Funding to the Scottish Welfare Fund should also be increased.

“The forthcoming Good Food Nation Bill offers an opportunity to address inequality and rising demand for food banks by making a commitment to ensure everyone in our country can access the food they need and reduce the reliance on emergency food aid. The Right to Food must be enshrined in law as part of the Bill.”