Mary Creagh with Norma Redfearn and Mary Glindon Mary Creagh MP, Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, warned that the Government needs take urgent action to help families hit by higher food bills during a visit to North Tyneside today. 

Mary Creagh visited a community allotment project in Longbenton with Norma Redfearn, Labour's candidate for Mayor of North Tyneside and Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside to see how one community is trying to tackle soaring costs of living. 

A recent survey by The Trussell Trust has found the number of people using foodbanks to feed their family has doubled in the last year. According to the charity, UK foodbanks have fed 128,697 people in crisis nationwide in the last 12 months. The report comes as the cost of living crisis is hitting households across the North East. The latest figures from supermarket chain, Asda found household spending power in the north east fell by £9 a week when compared with the same period last year.

During her visit, Mary Creagh heard details of the “Good Life” project, ran by social enterprise Justice Prince. The project provides "veg bags" for local people to cut the cost of shopping and offers training opportunities for young people and community groups. 

Mary Creagh MP, Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, said: 

“It’s great to see a community coming together to help improve the lives of those facing real hardship. Community projects such as this are becoming increasingly necessary as this government’s reckless policies begin to bite. 

“This Tory-led Government are out of touch with families on Tyneside feeling the squeeze from higher food bills and struggling to make ends meet. It is an utter disgrace that even though we are the seventh richest country in the world we face an epidemic of hidden hunger, particularly in children. 

“David Cameron says ‘we’re all in this together’ yet his Government’s Budget left families £511 a year worse off, while cutting taxes for millionaires. Families here in the North East deserve better than this. 

“The Government needs to give the proposed Groceries Code Adjudicator real powers to fine supermarkets who engage in unfair practices, and start defining and measuring food poverty if we are to tackle it effectively. 

"Supermarkets should also make their labels clearer to ensure people get the best value from their shopping and commit to using more of their food to help feed people, rather than throwing it away as soon as it comes off the shelf.”

Norma Redfearn, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of North Tyneside said:

“Food poverty is becoming a big problem across the country as families struggle to pay bills. It is a sad indictment of the government’s economic policies that food banks are being established in the borough. 

“Justice Prince has done a great job to develop this allotment from wasteland into a real community resource. Not only does it provide cheap and healthy food for local families but they also give training opportunities to young people to help them find work. I’m keen to do whatever I can to support them.” 


Mary Creagh with Norma Redfearn and Mary Glindon  

Notes for editors

1.Report from Trussell Trust on growth of food banks

2.Asda Income Tracker – Regional Report for April 2012 can be downloaded here