30 May 2013 You are here:

Salvation Army statement on the report: Walking the Breadline: The Scandal of Food Poverty in 21st Century Britain

The Salvation Army runs a number of foodbanks nationwide

The Salvation Army welcomes the report today and agrees that food poverty and increasing reliance on emergency food is not sustainable for those trapped in the cycle of dependency.

From the very beginning, The Salvation Army set itself against hunger. When our founder William Booth first began his ministry, he reached out to the poorest and most vulnerable people. One of the things all these people had in common was a severe difficulty with getting enough food to get them through the day.

Today we still work with communities around the UK, and our local churches are seeing unprecedented demand for emergency food.

 [Read more: The Salvation Army and fighting food poverty in the UK and overseas]

The Salvation Army has a holistic approach to dealing with people. When somebody comes to a church or community centre, they are sat down, made a cup of tea, and the reasons for their food poverty systematically gone through, whilst we determine what the best way to help is.

Commissioner Clive Adams, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in the UK, “We are finding that the problems with food poverty are coming from the benefits system and delays in payments.

So, today we are calling on Job Centres and Local Authorities to give people information about hardship payments and emergency payments as routine and see the needs of the individual.”

On the ground experience:

The Salvation Army will continue to focus on the individual and how they can get themselves out of poverty, into work, and onto a path where they can be the very best of themselves as God intended.

At our church in Preston, Captain Alex is experiencing intense demand on its food bank, to the extent that it has had to accept only those who have been referred through the local authority and providers to it.

[Read more: Preston Salvation Army foodbank]

“Using referrals is really the only sustainable way we could do this,” he says, “given the demand we face.”

“It helps us with our approach to help the whole person. We’ll often get somebody in with no referral or papers and we’ll sit with them, talk through their situation and see what we can do to help them get back on their feet. We have a chance to see what the causes of their food poverty are,” he continues.

Captain Alex Cadogan of Preston Corps with foodbank volunteer

Captain Alex is convinced that offering long-term support can help combat a short-term food problem, “What you don’t want to be doing is just handing out food and taking no interest in the person,” he says.  “That creates a dependency, and when you do that, you’re not helping someone to liberate themselves, you’re just trapping them further.”

Captain Alex continues, “The Salvation Army believes in focusing on the whole person – once you understand their issues and what’s causing their hunger, then you can begin the long and difficult work of helping that person get into a better situation for themselves and begin to reach their God-given potential.”

Watch now: Media Officer Mike visits the foodbank at Preston Salvation Army

“Here at Preston, we have noticed a rise in the amount of people coming to us for assistance with food. It is a real need. But in order to truly address that need, we have to follow proper procedures, make people aware of the welfare they can access and equip them with the skills they need to find work.” he states.

“Otherwise we will leave people to languish in poverty, and depend on handouts for food beyond emergency situations, which is no road to dignity.”