CAFOD challenges supermarkets and government on hunger

By staff writers
15 Nov 2012

Catholic aid agency CAFOD has launched a new food campaign to hundreds of supporters at Westminster Cathedral in London.

On Saturday 10 November the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development brought together 250 campaigners from all over England and Wales to launch a new initiative that aims to improve the food system.

The new campaign highlights the fact that a handful of supermarkets and food companies dominate the food system, making the rules that decide cost, price and standards. They often also control access to vital resources such as land, seeds and water.

Yet 50 per cent of the world’s food is grown by small-scale farmers in developing countries. With little power in the global food supply chain, these farmers are often forced to agree to big companies’ demands regardless of how unfair they may be.

During the gathering, supporters heard from Bishop John Arnold, CAFOD partner Fr Joe Komakoma and theologian David McLoughlin, before joining workshops looking at different aspects of the Hungry for Change campaign and how people can work together to bring about change.

From Westminster Cathedral Hall, CAFOD’s head of campaigns Clare Lyons told the enthusiastic crowd: “We are delighted to see so many people with such a wealth of enthusiasm and experience. We’ve all learnt so much from each other. Now the real work starts, getting the message out that it’s a scandal that millions of people go hungry in a world which provides enough food for all. Through campaigning, we can all do something about this.

The Hungry for Change campaign is calling for fundamental changes in the global food system so that power is more justly shared between rich and poor people, and more people can have access to enough food. There are an estimated 870 million people worldwide without enough food to be healthy and live an active life.

The overwhelming majority of these live in developing countries. Hunger is the world’s No1 health risk, killing more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The recent financial crisis has pushed even more people around the world to the brink of starvation.

At the launch, Fr Komakoma shared stories from his native Zambia showing how, despite the country’s relative economic success, many small-scale farmers are struggling to survive and climate change is making it harder for families to grow enough food to eat and sell.

He declared: “I hope that this campaign can raise awareness that there is a problem with food. People may not be aware that every night one in eight people goes without food. The more aware we are, the more obliged we are to do something about it. I hope people will lend their help to the Hungry for Change campaign and stand in solidarity with those who don’t have enough food.”

CAFOD’s Hungry for Change campaign is asking for:

· The UK government to ensure ‘empowering aid’ that helps small-farmers, especially women, speak up for their own needs and supports initiatives such as farming co-operatives, is a global priority;

· The UK government to include global food companies in the new statutory register of lobbyists so that we can all see how companies seek to influence government policy behind closed doors;

· For consumers to look again at the choices they make about what they eat and buy.

"We are all part of the global food system and by choosing local, sustainable or Fairtrade food, reducing the food we waste, and eating less meat, we can all make a difference," the agency said.

The Hungry for Change campaign will run for 12 months, using campaigning and political moments, such as the UK’s hosting of the G8 in May 2013, to highlight the issues at stake and call for further support.

* Sign a Hungry for Change action card or email Prime Minister David Cameron calling him to put the power in the food chain back in the hands of the poorest. The final day for returning campaign action cards to CAFOD will be 1 October 2013. To take action go to: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Take-action-today/Hungry-for-change

* CAFOD’s Hungry for Change short film: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Get-clued-up/Food

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