Edinburgh food banks: Lothian MSP calls for 'right to food' to be enshrined in Scotland's laws

Food bank use in Edinburgh has soared
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Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has said 2023 must be the year when Scotland enshrines a statutory “right to food” in law, as figures show food bank use soaring in Edinburgh.

Statistics published by the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the UK, show that the number of food parcels handed out in Edinburgh has soared by 35 per cent since 2017. And the number of parcels given to children has risen even more drastically, increasing by a massive 77 per cent, with 10,378 parcels being given out in the space of just six months. That includes a shocking 3,189 parcels for children in the Capital whose parents need urgent support now – a rise of 29 per cent since 2017. Ms Boyack said the “appalling” figures proved there must be no more delays to the introduction of a legal right to food in Scotland.

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Scottish Labour have long campaigned for a statutory right to food in Scots law. The party says the SNP and the Greens both backed the policy at the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, but claim that in May the SNP-Green Scottish Government voted against Labour’s attempt to introduce a Right to Food into the Good Food Nation Bill.

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack says latest figures showing soaring foodbank use are 'appalling'.Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack says latest figures showing soaring foodbank use are 'appalling'.
Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack says latest figures showing soaring foodbank use are 'appalling'.

Ms Boyack said: “As the cost of living crisis piles pressure on households, more and more people in Edinburgh are being forced to turn to food banks. Families are at breaking point and parents are struggling to feed their children. It is more urgent than ever that we enshrine people’s right to food in Scots law, but the SNP-Green government keep kicking the can down the line. There is no more time to delay – this year must be the year we embed the right to food in law at last.”A right to food is recognised in international law as part of the right to an adequate standard of living, first laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is taken to include a requirement that food should be available, affordable and meet dietary needs, as well as being safe and not contaminated. Incorporating the right to food into national law in Scotland would be expected to involve placing clear duties on public authorities, with appropriate targets and measurements to ensure the right was being met.