The rising cost of living is causing more people to cut back, skip meals, seek assistance from food banks, and in extreme cases to go without food completely. There is strong evidence that compromising on food can have significant impacts on both physical and mental health.
Being able to afford the food we need to stay healthy and happy is a cornerstone of the right to food and our Good Food Nation ambition. We believe that a Scotland without the need for food banks is possible. This is our ambition, and it is one that is shared by food bank networks, but getting there will take time, collective action and the right powers.
The economic situation we find ourselves in remains exceptionally difficult and the rising cost of living and UK Government policy decisions in this context are contributing to further hardship. The reality is that we do not have the full powers or resources required to truly bring about an end in the need for food banks in the short term, but collectively we intend to do more to reduce the need for their services.
Recognising the challenges we face, this Plan focuses on the actions we will take over the next three years, that can have a positive impact now on how people facing financial crisis are supported. It also sets out the core human rights principles that will shape our journey towards a Scotland without the need for food banks. This Plan represents the next phase of this journey, though we will have further tough decisions to make.
By strengthening availability, coordination and access to cash-first support now, we can help get money into people's pockets when they face crisis, backed up by advice and support to help maximise their incomes and prevent the crisis happening again. These actions will help make food banks the last port of call in an emergency, and are a key step towards achieving our longer-term ambition.
This Plan is aimed at the policy makers, services and organisations that support people experiencing financial hardship. We all have a role to play. The work delivered through this Plan will produce valuable learning about how local support systems can be adapted and how services can work together differently to improve access to cash and wider help in a crisis. We will share this learning to help inform decision-making among local authorities and their partners, as well as other national and local organisations, around how they can work together to tackle food insecurity. Collectively, we can respond to hardship more effectively but also help to prevent it from happening in the first place.
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