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New plan to tackle food poverty in Greater Manchester

The first ever Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester was launched on Monday 4 March.

Coordinated by Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA), the Action Plan has been co-produced during the last 12 months by over 100 organisations, including Bolton at Home, from across the public, private and voluntary and community sectors, as well as individuals with experience of poverty. The aim is to end the scourge of food poverty in Greater Manchester.

The plan was launched in central Manchester by GM Mayor Andy Burnham.

With over 600,000 people - including 200,000 children - living in poverty in Greater Manchester and food bank use higher in the city region than most other parts of the country, the plan calls for action by organisations across all sectors to help prevent people falling into poverty in the first place and to support people experiencing food poverty through increased access to advice and support.

The action plan calls for:

  • The provision of debt and welfare advice and any other support needed alongside the provision of food handouts, so that people get the most appropriate help as quickly as possible.
  • A lead for poverty to be appointed by the GM Combined Authority and each of Greater Manchester’s ten councils.
  • A campaign to increase uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers, a government scheme to support parents on low incomes to buy healthy food for their young children. GMPA estimates around £3.6million worth of vouchers went unclaimed in Greater Manchester last year.
  • Health services to work with charities and businesses to promote healthy food and to expand social prescribing for healthy food-related activities such as cooking classes and learning how to grow fruit and vegetables.

Tom Skinner, Co-Director of GMPA, said, “We are delighted to be launching the first ever Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester. With household budgets under huge pressure in recent years and more than half a million people struggling to put food on the table, it couldn’t be more timely.

“There has been an amazing local response to rising need, often led by the charity sector and best evidenced by the rise in food banks across the city region. However, we now need to better coordinate this response with more joint working across sectors, to meet the needs of residents facing hardship, to support them out of poverty, and to prevent people from falling into poverty in the first place.

“We are delighted that so many organisations have come together to develop the Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester. Only by working together to implement the plan can we end food poverty across the city region."

Andy Burnham, in his foreword to the Action Plan said, “One in four parents across the country have skipped meals to make ends meet and for schoolchildren ‘holiday hunger’ is a growing concern. I wholeheartedly support and endorse the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan, which enables a strategic and better-coordinated response to food poverty in our city region.

“Greater Manchester is the first city region to come together and co-produce a Food Poverty Action Plan on this scale. I applaud the work of the many people and huge range of partner organisations who work to reduce and prevent food poverty, support communities to plan and adapt to the challenge of food poverty and work with partners to address the structural and economic issues that underlie food poverty."

Jon Lord, Group Chief Executive Officer, Bolton at Home, said: “Bolton at Home has a long and proud track record of working with community groups and other partners to tackle food poverty through the development of food growing projects, food pantries and lunch provision through the summer holidays.

“Bolton is seen as being forward thinking on tackling poverty generally, and we’re already working with colleagues across Greater Manchester in positively responding to this issue.”

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