The right to food – where are we in Scotland?

Date: 2nd May 2017
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, recently visited Scotland. Despite encouraging Scotland in its opportunities to lead on the right to food, Scottish charities report increasing hunger issues for children and families.

The visit of Hilal Elver was coordinated by Nourish Scotland, an NGO campaigning on food justice issues in Scotland.
Speaking about her visit, Hilal highlighted Scotland's opportunity to lead on the right to food through the forthcoming Good Food Nation Bill: "My visit to Scotland has been to inform and inspire decision-makers on the opportunity Scotland has to be a European leader on the right to food."

"I congratulate the Scottish Government on the progress it has made so far, and encourage them to show leadership by protecting and progressing the right to food in the Good Food Nation Bill."

"Scotland has some challenges on the right to food, including high levels of food insecurity and diet related health inequalities, problems with access to land, and an agricultural subsidy scheme that is not aligned to social, environmental, and climate commitments - but you also have many opportunities."

"A hard Brexit brings many new challenges to Scotland's right to food obligations, including risks to farm incomes from export tariffs and unregulated cheap imports, but it is also a chance to rethink outdated policies - particularly on agricultural subsidies."

However, the Trussel Trust charity says that a record number of Scots are relying on help from foodbanks. Last year, more than 145,000 packages were given out by the charity - the most ever. It is estimated that this helped to stave off hunger in almost 50,000 children and is enough to feed the entire population of Dundee.

Meanwhile a poll by The Poverty Alliance found that one in three Scots on low income struggle to put food on the table. The poll shows that those on low incomes are not only skipping meals but also falling behind on bills, rent and mortgage payments. The findings reveal they are topping up their incomes with credit cards and loans, and borrowing to get by.

In its assessment of the UK last year, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made a recommendation with regards to the stark health inequalities that continue to exist in Scotland as well as issues affected by recent austerity measures including food insecurity, welfare reform, poverty and homelessness.