The visible poor and food poverty

This article looks at the rise in poverty in the United Kingdom with specific focus on the increase in food poverty and calls for a renewed commitment to the preferential option for the poor. Stephen J. McKinney is a professor at the School of Education, University of Glasgow.

The expression the ‘visible poor’ is often used to refer to homeless people living and sleeping rough in the United Kingdom. This article will argue that there are other signs of the visible poor that are related to food poverty or food insecurity. These can be discerned in the sharp rise in the uptake at foodbanks and in the eligibility for free school meals. There was a rise in the visible poor in the pre-Covid-19 United Kingdom, and the short-term and predicted long- term effects of the pandemic will produce a further rise of the visible poor. This article examines food poverty from a Catholic theological perspective drawing from the Gospels, José Comblin, Gustavo Gutiérrez and Catholic social teaching.

The series of lockdowns and restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has led to serious disruption in civic and economic life. As we begin to assess the effects of this disruption, there are serious anxieties about the fragility of the economy and the rise in unemployment in the different parts of the United Kingdom. This rise in unemployment will lead to greater numbers of families experiencing poverty, including the children. Around 22 per cent of the population and around one third of children in the United Kingdom live in poverty. Poverty means that there is not enough income to meet the needs of the family. Children are dependent members of families, and, as such, they are vulnerable to the effects of the decrease in the income levels and the resources of the family. This is equally the case where a family struggles with the challenges of persistent low income caused by working poverty or the ‘low-pay-no-pay’ cycle. Poverty is an issue that confronts and confounds the aspirations and hopes for social equality and human progression in twenty-first-century society.

Login for more...