Government seeks views on plan to end need for food banks

Scottish Parliament building

The Scottish government has launched a consultation on proposals to end the need for food banks.

The consultation document, which is open until 25 January, proposes a trial “pilot the use of shopping vouchers as an alternative” which would end the need for emergency parcels.

The government’s draft national plan is supported by food bank operators, including the Trussell Trust and Independent Food Aid Network.

The plan follows action during the pandemic to prevent food insecurity through strengthening household incomes and the delivery of cash-first responses to financial hardship.

Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison, said: “We share the same vision as food bank operators – they are not a long-term solution to poverty. Our draft plan sets out what we will do within our powers – including introducing a shopping voucher pilot scheme – to make food banks the last port of call.”

Robison added: “As part of the right to an adequate standard of living, people need to be able to access food that meets their dietary, social and cultural needs and this plan shows the way forward.”

Sabine Goodwin, co-ordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, which represents more than 500 food banks across the UK, said: “As the cut to Universal Credit and cost of living increases exacerbate poverty in Scotland, the publication of the draft national plan to end the need for food banks couldn’t be more timely.

“With a cash first, collaborative approach to food insecurity as the cornerstone of this plan, a time when food banks will no longer be needed to plug the gaps left by financial hardship is within sight.”