'Build a hunger free future'
Amid a continuing rise in food banks, the Trussell Trust says the provision of emergency food should not become part of the fabric of society - and is inviting church leaders, including Baptists, to a series of online events to find out more about how they can work together
The UK’s largest food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, says the huge number of people needing to turn to charities and churches for the essentials is an injustice, and the charity is encouraging churches to help build a hunger free future.
Food banks in the charity’s network gave out 1.2 million emergency food parcels between April and September last year, an effort only made possible through the support of volunteers, businesses, community groups, the general public, and nearly 12,000 churches across the UK, which play a vital part in the Trussell Trust network.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need for emergency food provision, and churches, faith groups and community groups have been at the heart of responding to this need, stepping up existing provision as well as developing new initiatives. In the first six months of the pandemic, the need for food banks in the Trussell Trust network increased by 47 per cent, with 2,600 emergency food parcels provided for children every day on average.
But the charity says it is vital that this does not become a time at which the provision of emergency food becomes part of the fabric of society, so it is inviting church leaders to a series of online events to find out more about how they can work together to achieve a hunger free future.
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said, 'I am so grateful for the Christian community’s involvement in our work, which has been crucial in making it possible for food banks to continue to serve people at a time when it is so badly needed.
'But it isn’t right that so many people should be forced to turn to charities and churches for food and other basics. Rather, as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to find the courage and energy to build a different future – one in which food banks are no longer needed, because everyone can afford the essentials.
'Churches have a vital part to play in helping us to bring this future into being, and I am so looking forward to connecting with church leaders at these events. Together, I know we can continue to create real change.'
The Trussell Trust works with volunteers and supporters of all faiths and none, and partners with churches from several denominations across the UK. More than 100 Baptist churches host Trussell Trust food bank centres and many more provide volunteers, leaders, food donations, or financial support that make this work possible.
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington for the Church of England, said, 'It has been inspiring and humbling for me to see first-hand churches sacrificially expand their provision of support through foodbanks in the past year.
'The partnership between the Trussell Trust and church communities has been a big part of that provision and yet we hope and pray for the day when foodbanks are no longer needed. This partnership can go even further to work towards the prospect of a hunger free future for people in communities across this country.'
Siân Rees, director of Evangelical Alliance Wales, said: 'As part of the Trussell Trust’s food bank network, churches throughout Wales are providing emergency food and support to record numbers of people. Showing compassion and providing practical support is such a vital expression of our Christian faith. So too is seeking justice, and engaging with the political and economic issues that affect our communities – we need to be speaking out about the causes of poverty and helping to shape long-term solutions too.
'As churches we are here for people facing crisis in our communities – and I have every confidence that, working together with organisations like the Trussell Trust, we can build a future that makes sure people are protected from acute poverty long before they need a food bank.'
The Trussell Trust will be hosting online events for church leaders in Northern Ireland on April 27, England on April 28, Wales on June 8, and Scotland on June 10.
To find out more about these events, or how your church can support the Hunger Free Future campaign, visit trusselltrust.org/big-breakfast.