Friday, 12 March 2010
If you were asked to guess when food banks were operating in Wales to distribute three days worth of emergency groceries to those who can’t afford the basics, you would be forgiven for thinking of another century.
Emergency food packages evokes memories of the depression of the 1930s or perhaps even the bitter year-long miners’ strike of 1984. That it exists right now, in 2010, is nothing short of an outrage. Plans to establish another ten food banks across Wales in response to growing demand, indicates the problem is not going to disappear soon. In the South Wales Central region, there is a food bank in Pontyclun and another in Tylorstown which recently ran an appeal for canned food to be donated.
Thanks to Thatcher, many parts of Wales have failed to recover from previous bad economic times. The Tory Governments of the 1980s and 90s presided over huge wealth disparities in the UK which was illustrated by the decimation of the coal industry at a time when yuppies were popping up all over London. And New Labour have also failed to address the burgeoning gap between rich and poor in 13 years’ of Government. Recent reports have shown inequalities to have increased under Blair and Brown.
In plenary at the Senedd this week, I asked for funding to be supplied to the Trussell Trust who operate the food bank network. They provide emergency food to people in crisis on a voluntary basis, thanks to people's good will in donating non-perishable food.
If, as expected, David Cameron becomes the next Prime Minister, we have cause for even more concern. The Tories' raison d’etre has been, and will always be, to protect the wealth of the privileged few. If they get elected and carry out their planned slash and burn of public services, the food bank network would no doubt expand, particularly in those parts of Wales where a high proportion of the working population is employed within that particular sector.
If things are bad now, we ain't seen nothing yet!