Hunger exists in UK too, says church group

PA

The head of Church Action on Poverty has warned hunger is becoming an increasing reality for families in the UK.

Niall Cooper said stagnant or falling incomes were combining with rising food and fuel costs to leave many parents unable to feed their children on a regular basis.

There are now an estimated quarter of a million people relying on emergency food aid in the UK.

Mr Cooper warned that one in five mothers were going without food on a regular basis so that their children could eat instead.

He said the choice was coming down to eating or paying the bills and heating the home.

"Do these figures relate to Ethiopia, Sudan, the Congo – or the UK?" he said.

"Hunger is no longer a reality only for families in drought stricken, war torn or 'underdeveloped' countries in sub-Saharan Africa."

Mr Cooper welcomed discussions in the European Union on extending its Food Aid Programme to all 27 member states, including the UK.

The EU has earmarked 2.5bn euros for a new seven-year programme, but it has met with opposition from the UK.

Mr Cooper also questioned the focus of the recently launched IF campaign on ending hunger.

"I can't help feeling that it is something of an irony that the IF campaign currently doesn't include seeking to end hunger close to home," he said.

"Is it more palatable to tackle hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, that it is to face up to the reality of hunger in our own backyard."

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