Charities act to feed 'starving' in Britain

Charities distrbuting leftover food from supermarkets to the needy as they report economic situation severely affecting thousands of people to the point of starvation.


    Camila Batmanghelidjh looked me in the eye. "We've had toddlers drawing food on pieces of paper and eating the paper because they were so hungry," she said.

    I gawped at her. She's instantly recognisable and one of Britain's leading childrens' charity campaigners.

    Her people have been on the phone, and say children (and some adults) they deal with are suffering the effects of starvation. They described it as a "humanitarian crisis".

    Now I can completely follow the logic of people in Britain not having enough cash to feed them and their kids.

    Benefit cuts, food inflation, the disgracefully high cost of fuel, all combine to make it impossible to afford enough food over a week for many thousands.

    Yet that description - the "S" word, starving - conjures up all sorts of images of IDPs and refugees and aid workers with bags of grain. London??

    So they took me to a centre about 3km from Westminster where they feed the kids.

    In schooltime they might get lunch it's the Easter holidays, and without this they'll have NO MEAL AT ALL.

    The parents are either destitute or dispossessed, or addicts, or some other sort of horror which means the kids often make their own way to the centre (aged three upwards) or if not they root through bins for food.

    (This I can attest to - I live in Peckham and have seen people at the back of the Iceland supermarket, next to the train station, doing just that).

    But here's the kicker. A mile or two up the road from Camila's charity is another one.

    They realised what people in Peckham did - that the supermarkets throw away vast amounts of perfectly good food.

    Instead they began asking them to hand it over to distribute to charities (700 now across Britain, since you ask, and more on the waiting list).

    And get this - the UK's supermarkets throw away three million tonnes of food every year. Just because it's past its sell-by date or is a bit bashed up. The charities get just a tiny fraction of that.

    So. You have kids who are at risk of starvation in central London just over the river from the City (triple-A credit rating intact, thank you) while supermarkets lob enough food to feed an entire nation.

    Isn't capitalism wonderful when it works this well.



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