An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Hunger, Foodbanks and a Tory Councillor

Councillor Chris Steward, who thinks food banks are unnecessary

Another day and yet another 'bashing the poor' comment makes the news. While this sort of  rhetoric is commonplace now what distinguishes one comment from another is the degree of  superiority being displayed by the maker (of the comment) and his/her ability to demonstrate a remarkable lack of sympathy for anyone who cannot make ends meet.

The latest person to display a vile sense of superiority is a Tory councillor called Chris Steward who said that: "The fact that some give to food banks, merely enables people who can't budget (an issue where schools should do much more and I have said the council should) or don't want to, to have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes etc" 

So, by his account, poverty in Britain is an illusory concept and Foodbanks exist merely to supplement people's incomes rather than to act as a substitute for a lack of income. In fact, Christ Steward goes on to say: "We have lots of poor people, but living standards have surged over the years. There is certainly no need for foodbanks; no-one in the UK is starving and I think that foodbanks insult the 1 billion in the world that go to bed hungry everyday and ignore the fact that a child dies of hunger every 3 seconds." 

Living standards have surged? Has yours surged? Wouldn't common sense tell you that living standards cannot have surged while the country is gripped in a double dip recession? Drawing comparison with the sort of poverty that exists in continents like Asia and Africa is an invitation to join a race to the bottom. Starvation and hungry dying children are not benchmarks for true poverty. These scenarios go beyond a measurement of poverty and are extreme outcomes of an unjust distribution of resources. Would Chris Steward prefer that  such situations become commonplace in Britain before foodbanks are established? Foodbanks are an intervention to ensure that the need for food is met before it reaches crisis levels of starvation and death.

As a Christian, I am proud of the fact that many churches are either involved with foodbanks in their areas or are hosting foodbanks of their own. It is the spirit of God in action.

"There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread" - Gandhi


  1. If that is a photograph of the 'gentleman' in question, it is easy to see that hunger is not something he knows much about.
    Just how are people, often with no jobs, ineligible for any type of financial aid, with families to feed, supposed to survive?
    Who does he think actually eats the food handed out by the "unnecessary" food banks, mice?
    The 'them and us' gap gets wider every day.
    Like you, I am proud of the fact that many churches do their bit toward feeding and clothing those most in need, I just deplore the fact that in the 21st Century it is still necessary.

    1. Hi Ray, the photo is of Chris Steward and people have left comments on online sites commenting on his physique too. A friend of mine commented that she would not let him near a Foodbank. This 'them and us' divide is contrived to allow a culture of blame to flourish. If someone cannot afford to eat then it is their fault.