FORTY-TWO Anglican bishops and more than 600 clerics and
ministers have signed an open letter demanding that politicians act
to stop people going hungry in the UK.
Their letter, part of the End Hunger Fast campaign (News,
21 February), coincides with new statistics from the Trussell
Trust, which says that it gave out emergency food parcels 913,000
times in the past financial year.
In the preceding 12 months, the figure given is 347,000, so that
the reported increase is 163 per cent. The Trussell Trust also said
that 83 per cent of its foodbanks had reported that benefits
sanctions were driving people to seek food aid.
The letter to David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband asks
them to work with the parliamentary inquiry into food poverty -
co-chaired by the Bishop of Truro, and launched two weeks ago - to
implement its recommendations (News, 4 April).
Among the signatories are the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry
Morgan, 19 other diocesan bishops, and representatives of other
denominations, including the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist,
and United Reformed Churches.
The letter says: "As we approach Easter the mind turns to the
hope of spring, the promise of resurrection and renewal. Hope
drives us to act.
"It drives us to tackle the growing hunger in our midst. It
calls on each of us, and government too, to act to make sure that
work pays, that food markets support sustainable and healthy diets,
and that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence
An associate priest at St Mark's, Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire,
the Revd Dr Keith Hebden, fasted for 40 days from Ash Wednesday to
back End Hunger Fast. He consumed only water and one glass of fruit
juice a day. "It's been amazing to see people joining in with me
who have never fasted before, and all this is putting significant
pressure on the Government," he said.
"We have given people a way to speak out about the situation,
and how frustrated they are. They have spoken through fasting,
which is stronger than words."
Dr Hebden broke his fast on the evening of Palm Sunday with a
simple meal of cauliflower mash and nettle soup. "It was slightly
moving and a little bit emotional," he said.