No one in Oxford need go hungry

As the Diocese of Oxford release their report on food poverty in the Thames Valley, which follows last year's report from recently re-elected Green MEP Keith Taylor, Oxford Green Councillors are looking for more support for Oxford's Food Banks.
Says Green Cllr David Thomas, "Whilst many of the food poverty problems are the direct result of national Coalition policies,  much more can be done locally to mitigate their impact."  
Keith Taylor MEP at the Oxford Food Bank
The Diocese of Oxford's report this week on food poverty in the Thames Valley is extremely [1] welcomed and timely, says Green Party Oxford City Councillor David Thomas.  
Whilst previous research by Green MEP Keith Taylor [2] had found that demand for food banks in the South East increased by 70% last year, and that nationally an estimated 500,000 people received emergency food aid,  the Church's report brings home the human stories behind these figures.  
As the report explains, one does not have to look far for the drivers behind the rise in the use of foodbanks: new punitive benefit sanctions; delayed benefit payments; zero-hour contracts; stagnating wages; food inflation; and, a reduction in the availability of crisis loans.   
Oxford Green Party is fully committed to working with both the City and County Councils to ensure that every effort is made to reduce the incidence of food poverty in our county, including: reducing missed benefit payments; ensuring all council contractors pay the living wage; supporting the living wage campaign across Oxford; asking front line benefit staff to exercise as much discretion as they legally able to, and making sure crisis funds are fully utilised. 
Says Cllr Thomas, "One simple thing the City Council could do is to divert some of its surplus grant funding towards  Oxford's food banks. Even a modest grant would go a long way. Each £1 of funding delivers £25 of much needed food - enough to feed someone for a week. No one in Oxford need go hungry."  
At a national level, the Green Party continues to fight for a nation wide living wage policy, and end to zero hours contracts, and a reversal of the biting cuts programme that has pushed so many into food poverty in the first place.
FMI: Cllr David Thomas 
[1] 999 - Food : Emergency Food Aid in Thames Valley - a Snap Shot, Alison Webster, Department of Mission Church of England, Diocese of Oxford, June 2014
[2] Food Bank Britain, A report for Keith Taylor MEP, Green Party, Feb 2014

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