Scotland may soon take a major step toward narrowing the country’s hunger gap. As the Independent reports, the government is considering a “right to food” law that would make substantial and affordable meals accessible to everyone.
The proposal comes after the release of a report by the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty [PDF]. According to the publication, the number of requests for emergency food supplies in Scotland rose from around 14,000 in 2012 and 2013 to nearly 134,000 in 2015 and 2016. Legislating the right to food wouldn’t abolish hunger in the country completely, but the group hopes it would reduce the dependence on emergency rations to stay fed.
With the right to food protected by law, the Scottish government would have a legal obligation to implement policies and distribute resources as well as its powers allow. As the group writes in the report, “Underpinning policy with law makes policy more resilient and durable as governments change [...] Tackling food insecurity in Scotland, like tackling homelessness, is a challenge which will outlast several parliaments.” They also recommend introducing a uniform system that could be used to measure food security.
Poverty is a pervasive issue in Scotland, and it hits children especially hard. A 2015 survey saw a 51 percent increase in the number of students going to school hungry. It’s such a common problem that teachers are trained to identify malnourished kids. If the new provision passes through, that would make Scotland the second European country to enshrine the right to food into law, the first being Ukraine.