Call to look at 'growing dependence on food banks' among families in Sunderland

Sunderland City Council leaders are to consider plans ‘to look at the growing dependence’ and to ‘wean’ families off food banks.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:57 pm
Cabinet member for children, learning and skills, Coun Louise Farthing (Sunderland City Council)
Cabinet member for children, learning and skills, Coun Louise Farthing (Sunderland City Council)

Concerns have been raised about the extent to which Sunderland households have come to rely on the handouts, particularly over the last 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

And as well as guaranteeing access to nutritious meals, the need to promote cookery and other preparation skills are also expected to be highlighted.

“I think we probably need to look at the growing dependence on food banks and trying to look at a scheme that might wean people off that,” said Louise Farthing, the city council’s cabinet member for children, education and skills.

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“I was speaking to the food banks last week and there are several schemes where you get a pack of food, a recipe and there is also training involved as well.

“I think we need to start looking at something like that because otherwise we’re going to have high dependency.

“And if the indications are that we lose £20 a week [from Universal Credit] in September, we are going to have a lot of difficulties across Washington.”

Cllr Farthing was speaking at a meeting of the city council’s Washington Area Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube, on Thursday, March 18.

Proposals set out in the panel’s Delivery Plan set out a ‘call for projects’ to ‘help the local community eat and learn to prepare/cook healthy meals’.

Cllr Farthing raised the example of the SARA project, which supports a range of initiatives in the Southwick area of the city, from education to deterring crime and fly-tipping.