Food banks: Big Society in Action or Society in Failure?
The use of food banks (a staple part of America’s “safety net” e.g. Feeding America) are a growing part of our society.
In 2011-12 food banks fed 128,687 people nationwide, in 2012-13 we anticipate this number will rise to over 290,000. Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing more and more people to come to food banks for help.
The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new food banks nationwide. With over 325 food banks currently launched, our goal is for every town to have one. Trussell Trust
The Conservatives, who seem to have a desire to ape so many aspects of “the American System” probably view food banks as welcome evidence of the “Big Society”.
Whilst not decrying the individual and corporate acts of charity that enable these food banks to function, surely they are evidence of a society that is failing at the most basic level?
I feel slightly ashamed that there is now a food bank opening in my (relatively comfortable) part of the North of England. If the government is correct when it says that its benefit changes are not the cause of the recent rapid increase in the need for food banks, should I feel hard-hearted to the appeals to give to patch the over large holes in the so-called safety net? If the government is incorrect and the rise is due to problems with the welfare system (particularly delay in payments) I should be incensed that the government expects us to cover for their incompetence!