Belfast has become a Right To Food city following a vote by councillors on Wednesday evening.
SDLP West Belfast councillor Paul Doherty brought a motion before Belfast City Council proposing they join cities like Liverpool and Manchester in recognising the food poverty that exists and calling on governments across the North and Britain to tackle the issue.
The Right To Food campaign was started by Labour MP Ian Byrne and has gained the support of over 25 cities and towns.
Councillor Doherty said:
“Through my work in the community with Foodstock over the last few years I have seen the extent to which families are suffering because of the widespread food poverty that exists across Belfast and the North as a whole. Behind closed doors there are many families without enough to eat, parents skipping meals and children going hungry. So many people are struggling to keep their heads above water.
“When considering my first motion to bring before council I knew that I had to do something that highlights the huge issues around access to food, while calling on those in power to act. I will explore every avenue which council has available to support people, but the reality is that the real power lies at Stormont and Westminster, they are the ones who can put policies in place to eradicate food poverty and change people’s lives for the better.
“Tonight’s vote by councillors to recognise Belfast as a Right To Food city sends a powerful message of solidarity. Ian Byrne’s work with the Right To Food campaign has been remarkable and it is spreading to towns and cities across these islands as more and more people wake up to what is happening in our communities.
“The demands of the campaign are simple, we want to see everyone having access to the food they need, with that right enshrined in law. We need funding for community kitchens, universal free school meals and holiday meal payments and other initiatives that ensure nobody goes hungry in this day and age. I’m proud that Belfast has joined the likes of Liverpool and Manchester as a Right To Food city and I will keep working to shine a spotlight on these issues and secure action for the people who need it most.”