The archbishop of Canterbury has revealed how he was left more shocked by the plight of Britain’s hunger-stricken poor than by suffering in African refugee camps.
Food is being wasted at “astonishing” levels across the UK but hunger “stalks large parts” of the country, the Most Rev Justin Welby said. Families are being forced to turn to food banks to make ends meet despite holding down jobs, he told the Mail on Sunday.
On Monday a parliamentary report he has backed will set out a blueprint to eliminate hunger in Britain by 2020 and urge ministers and the food industry to act.
In the Mail on Sunday article, he said that although less serious, the plight of a family who turned to a food bank in Britain shocked him more than terrible suffering in Africa because it was so unexpected.
“In one corner of a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a large marquee. Inside were children, all ill. They had been separated from family, friends, those who looked after them. Perhaps, mostly having disabilities, they had been abandoned in the panic of the militia attack that drove them from their homes. Now they were hungry.
“It was deeply shocking but, tragically, expected. A few weeks later in England, I was talking to some people – a mum, dad and one child – in a food bank. They were ashamed to be there. The dad talked miserably. He said they had each been skipping a day’s meals once a week in order to have more for the child, but then they needed new tyres for the car so they could get to work at night, and just could not make ends meet.