13% rise in use of food banks highlighted in new play

Airmen volunteering with the African American Heritage Council sort donated food while serving at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Spokane, Wash., Jan. 24, 2014. Second Harvest’s mission is fighting hunger and feeding hope by bringing community resources together to feed people in need through empowerment, education and partnerships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton/Released)

By Ròisìn Kilroy

A new play that seeks to highlight and humanise food bank users, opens this week amidst growing concern about huge rise in use of food banks.

“It seemed that government policies were leading directly to people having no money for food.” – Tara Osman

The play by Tara Osman, a former food bank manager in London, is a factual drama allowing the audience to gain an insight into the lives of food bank users.

Inspiration for the show comes from witnessing first hand how people interpret poverty, Osman said: “I wanted an audience to feel what I was feeling when sitting with a client at the food bank, then they might understand”.

Food Banks as it is, will debut in Holyrood in a private performance for MSPs on Wednesday before opening to the public on Thursday at The Mitchell Library Theatre in Glasgow and North Edinburgh Arts in Edinburgh on Friday.

Tara Osman said: “It seemed that government policies were leading directly to people having no money for food. Some of the most vulnerable people were the hardest hit: lone parents and their children, people with disabilities and/or mental health issues, women fleeing domestic violence for example.

On a policy level I would like there to be a restoration of the welfare benefits safety net so that people can genuinely look to the state for support when they really need it. I would like decision makers to recognise that our current system is inadequate and unnecessarily punitive to the extent that people’s human right to food is being compromised.”

In September The Trussell Trust, a leading charity dedicated to stopping UK hunger announced that 87,981 people in Scotland needed three day emergency food supplies from their food banks between April and September.

Trussell trust state that there has been a 13% increase in emergency food bank users in 2018, compared to the figures from last year.

On the 6th November, Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said that urgent changes to universal credit need to take place in order to help families across the UK.

Emma Revie said: “Our benefit system is supposed to anchor any of us from being swept into poverty, but if universal credit is to do that, we need to see urgent changes.”