Community News

Food poverty exists in Brighton actually!

Gary Pargeter November 22, 2014

Food poverty exists despite stories to persuade us otherwise with 3,500 people in Brighton and Hove not able to afford to feed themselves or their families.

Lunch Positive

LOW PAY, high rents, expensive fuel and household bills. Reduced welfare support, inadequate housing benefits, withdrawal of emergency support. Poor housing, rogue landlords and inadequate cooking facilities. Poor health, lack of physical stamina and support at home. Loneliness, low mood, depression and poor mental health. Homelessness, rough sleeping and restricted spaces to shelter.

These are the causes of food poverty for growing numbers of people in the city. A city that behind the gloss of flourishing business and industry, cultural activity, housing development, university growth and tourist attraction is still a place of social and financial inequality, exclusion and uncertainty for many.

Whenever the inevitable expose of food banks appears on television I watch with keen and close interest. Of course it’s frustrating to see people misuse the system and benefit where they have no need. But don’t let that obscure the far greater number of people who have genuine difficulty feeding themselves.

Have you ever been hungry? Not just waiting for your next meal, but truly hungry. So hungry that you feel physically weak and in pain – with an empty fridge and no money to buy food for several days, or longer? So emotionally depleted because you aren’t in a position to meet your basic needs?

At our community service we get to know the people who come along, talk about their circumstances, understand at first hand the challenges that many have, and witness the distress this can cause.

Actually, most people are reluctant to ask for help. Please don’t buy into sensational media and take the comfortable stance that the problem isn’t as great, as it is. For the numbers of people who seek support, consider the very many more that don’t, who aren’t counted, and suffer as a consequence.

So, Christmas approaches – a time of celebration and excess for many. It’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves that many others will be facing the weeks ahead, and beyond, just like any other – with worry and uncertainty about eating regularly.

For people with HIV, we’d ask you to remember we’re here to help. We’d like to thank our volunteers for their hard work and creativity. They feed up to 60 people each week, a healthy three course meal that costs less than £100 in total to produce.

We’d like you to know about Fareshare Brighton that donates us food stocks every week, without which we would not exist. Above all, we hope you’ll join with us and consider the causes of inequality and food poverty, and what we can do to change this.

Lunch Positive provides a weekly Friday lunch club for people with HIV.

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Fareshare Brighton distributes excess food from catering suppliers and supermarkets to charities.

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