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Social Justice

Tory MP claims people use food banks because they can’t cook or budget properly

Lee Anderson said “there’s no great use for food banks” in the same week figures show 2.4 million people went a day without food.

A Conservative MP has claimed there’s no need for food banks in the UK and that people can afford to eat for 30p a day.

Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, told MPs in the House of Commons that rising hunger is not down to the cost of living crisis but is instead down to a lack of cooking skills.

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Speaking in a debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Anderson said: “There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.

“You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

He also said there is a “brilliant scheme” at the foodbank in Ashfield, adding: “When people come now for a food parcel, they’ve got to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course.

“And what we do at the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget. We can make a meal for around 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

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Anderson’s views have attracted widespread criticism on social media.

Mental health social worker Tom Pollard, who recently wrote in The Big Issue about his research conducted in food banks, said: “I interviewed a woman in a food bank last year who used to be a chef. I reckon she can cook a better meal than Lee Anderson and I’m certain she knows more than him about how to budget on a low income.”

The Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Hard to cook a meal from scratch when you’ve got nothing to cook with and can’t afford to turn the oven or the hob on because energy bills are through the roof and you’ve got to worry about keeping your kids warm and clothed.

“And, by the way, there are millions of people who have to go *TO FOODBANKS* to get their food. If that’s not massive use, I’m not sure what is?!”

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Anderson is most famous for boycotting the England team during the Euro 2020 tournament after the players chose to take the knee to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and call for racial equality.

But the MP has quite the track record when it comes to controversial comments. While a candidate in 2019, he was criticised over the suggestion that nuisance council tenants should be forced to live in tents.

His comments come in the week that The Food Foundation revealed 2.4 million people went a day without food as the cost of living crisis bites into household incomes and drives up food prices.

The number of food banks in the UK has risen sharply in the last decade and famously there are now more food banks across the country than there are McDonalds fast food restaurants.

The Trussell Trust, the largest food bank charity in the UK, described the current situation as a “national emergency” last month as it revealed the total number of parcels provided to children and adults exceeded two million between April 1 2021 and March 31 2022.

The figure is the highest recorded outside of a pandemic.

Anderson’s comments come on the same day another Tory politician has received food bank-related criticism.

The leader of Dartford Council in Kent Jeremy Kite was seen smiling alongside the mayor while performing a ribbon-cutting at a new food bank in the area.

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