The chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has expressed his “shock” at the rapid increase of free food initiatives in Scotland.
In an interview published in Holyrood’s Annual Review, Martin Sime said free food initiatives are the biggest growth area in the third sector.
Welfare cuts, of which he said 80 per cent are yet to hit, will “assault the standards and conditions of our poorest people” and so addressing the impact of welfare reform “has to be the top priority”.
“In our sector, the biggest growth area is free food initiatives, which is truly shocking; that is getting food from people that can afford to buyit and giving it to people that can’t afford to feed themselves or their families,” Sime said.
“We are back to that and let’s face it, there is a lot more of that on the horizon and frankly, that sweeps everything else out of the way as far as I am concerned because it is about survival tactics for the near future, at least until the economy recovers.”
Last year Holyrood reported on the expansion of the Trussell Trust foodbank network in Scotland, of which the trust said demand for emergency food aid was at an “unprecedented level”. At the startof 2011, the trust had just one foodbank in Scotland, situated in Inverness, which was the busiest of all of its foodbanks across the UK that year. It now has 13 open or under development in Scotland.
The British Dietetic Association has also warned about the growing problem of malnutrition among the elderly population in the UK, calling it a “national disgrace” that an estimated one million older people living in their own homes are eating less than one meal per day.
Debbie O’Rourke, Head of Employment Relations at the BDA, commented: “People are always shocked to the core by the scandalous levels of malnutrition that exist in the UK today, even by the very fact that malnutrition exists in this country at all. Malnutrition is not a problem that only affects the third world. Very sadly it is very much here… in our communities… on our doorstep.”