Church leaders launch a fast to end hunger

This letter was published in the national press on 19 February.

Sir –

Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year[1].

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children[2], and ever more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families who’s wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On 5 March, Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

On 5 March we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support food banks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk or www.church-poverty.org.uk/endhungerfast

Yours

Anglican Bishops - Stephen Patten, David Walker, Tim Stevens, Andy John, Tony Porter, Paul Butler, Alan Wilson, Alan Smith, Nick Holtam, Tim Thornton, John Pritchard, Steven Croft, Jonathan Gledhill, Michael Perham

Loraine Mellor - Chair of Nottingham and Derby Methodist District

Simon Walkling - Moderator, United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales

Revd John Hellyer - Chair of the South East District of the Methodist Church.

Revd Jenny Impey - Joint Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church

Revd Michaela Young - Joint Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church

Revd Dr Stuart Jordan - Joint Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church

Revd Bruce Thompson - Chair Lincolnshire Methodist District

Revd Paul Whittle - Moderator of the URC Eastern Synod


[1] http://www.channel4.com/news/malnutrition-health-emergency-dwp-british-medical-journal

[2] Netmums Survey of 2,000 of their members

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