Online petition launched to help the hungry

Online petition launched to help the hungry

Reporter:

Amanda Hall

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Online petition launched to help the hungry

A campaign to change the law so that supermarkets can give unused food to the needy is being backed by a woman determined to help poverty-stricken people in Maidenhead.

Sue Brett said as many as 500 families in the town who are struggling to feed themselves could benefit from unsold food which supermarkets are forced to throw out.

The 49-year-old has now launched an online petition to support a change in law proposed by Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy which will exempt food donors from prosecution and liability for anything they donate.

Sue said: "The amount of good food that goes to waste when there are adults and children unable to feed themselves is sinful.

"Changing the law could change the lives of countless people, not only in Maidenhead but across the country."

The mother-of-four is a member of the multi-faith charity Open Kitchen which launched Foodshare - a project which sees weekly food packages distributed to people recognised as being in severe poverty by Maidenhead Citizen's Advice Bureau.

More than 1,000 parcels have been distributed to families costing about £26,000 since the scheme was set up in September last year.

But Sue said the charity, which relies on cash and food donations from the public, is only reaching about one third of the town's needy.

She added proposed government welfare changes, which will see a single, means-tested benefit replace many existing benefits, could make problems worse.

She said: "Having one monthly payment may make it harder for people to prioritise how to spend their money and could see them running into debt.

"Housing benefits will also be paid to the tenant instead of the landlord. This could create a temptation to spend the money on food instead of rent and could lead to a rise in homelessness.

"I can only see the situation getting worse for the poor."

As well as signing the petition, Sue is also asking for more food donations to help her and the 200 volunteers she works with to reach more people.

She added the charity is also looking for a bigger premises to store and manage donations.

Visit www.openkitchen.org.uk for details.

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